Monday, March 14, 2011

Mom's Movie Review: "Rango" is great for adults and/or if you're mad at your toddler about something.

My husband and I have been excited for months about all the upcoming summer movies geared towards kids.  Kids' movies are so much more accessible for adults now, and having a 1 1/2 year-old allows us to go see things like "How to Train Your Dragon" without looking creepy (or like potheads).

So for weeks we have been looking forward to "Rango", the animated kids' Western where Johnny Depp voices the titular protagonist, a domesticated lizard stranded in the Wild West.  We finally got our chance to see it this past Saturday.

My husband and I loved it.  I just wish we hadn't brought our son.

Be forewarned, "Rango" is scary.  I wouldn't take any kid under 5 to see it.  The main character, Rango, suffers from frequent existential meltdowns and identity crises, which made for some very odd, trippy scenes.  (Remember how much the tunnel scene from the original "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" scared you as a kid?)  Let's put it this way...:SPOILER ALERT:...I have no idea how a vision of Clint Eastwood riding around, in a golf cart full of Oscars, wielding a metal detector can be considered any form of children's entertainment.

And the villains are very frightening.  The picture at the top of this post is of Rattlesnake Jake.  Obviously, all the characters are talking animals.  But the animals are in natural proportion to each other.  So when this evil rattlesnake with his dripping fangs, fiery eyes, and gun for a tail slithers into town, he's huge next to the little rodent and lizard protagonists.  It's way too intense for toddlers.

The humor, too, is very, very dark.  And the "cartoon violence" is exacerbated by its animation.  When a boulder falls on Wile E. Coyote, he's smushed, but springs back, or just sports a lump on his head, and it's all very flat, and one-dimensional.  In the highly advanced computer graphics of "Rango", the rocks have real depth and weight, and when one crushes a character (it actually occurs multiple times), they don't spring back up, because they are very obviously dead.

There's the other obvious things a more uptight mom could complain about.  There's a little bit of language, and some innuendo.  I honestly don't care about those things one bit; my kid's young enough that they go right over his head.

And, honestly, my son didn't act like anything in the movie scared him while we were watching it.  But I'm still concerned that he's going to remember the scary parts when he goes to bed at night, and I'm going to have to console a 19-month-old who's having nightmares that a gunslinging venomous serpent is coming to eat our pet rat.

Thanks a lot, Nickelodeon.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for you very open and honest review of this movie. I am very sensitive to "Dark" and "scary" movies and won't let my children watch them - so I really appreciate knowing all this about Rango - which is one we will surely pass on. -Stephanie

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVED this movie. Honestly I wasn't expecting much more than a cliche "talking animal" movie starring Johnny Depp; boy I couldn't have been more wrong. This movie was simply fantastic.

The animation was astounding, and the characters were fleshed out perfectly. I loved the Native American Crow, and the old doctor rabbit with one ear, and Blake Clark as Buford the toad, with his big deep toad-like eyes and tough skin.

I really loved how much larger Rattlesnake Jake was compared to the others, the scene when he's in the town is just so terrifying. I could go on and on.

All in all, I completely agree with your post, this one is not for the very young ones, but adults will just adore it.

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