You are reading a movie review by one of the few critics who did not care for the Coen Brother’s “True Grit” at all.  It wasn’t that I thought they put together a poorly made film, I just don’t like Westerns.  I never have.  The genre does not do anything for me.  I remember seeing “Stagecoach” in film school and the professor noting what a great movie it was, but the only part of it I liked was when you saw the shadow of the camera man during a crane shot.  It gave me a laugh.  I didn’t even like “Brokeback Mountain”.  If that movie was about two gay coalminers or two guys being anything other than cowboys I probably would have liked it much more.  I was thrilled when “Crash” won the Oscar for Best Picture that year.

When I went to see Industrial Light and Magic’s first animated movie, “Rango” I was not expecting too much.  I’m sure it would look great, and it does, but I did not expect to get too involved with the story.  My reason, I knew this movie was a Spaghetti Western at heart.  To my extraordinary delight, I had a great time!  “Rango” should not be missed by anyone.

Rango, voiced by Johnny Depp, is a pet chameleon who fancies himself as an actor.  After he gets separated from his owners, in an hysterically and exciting scene, he finds himself wondering in the dangerous Mojave Desert until he comes across a small town by the name of Dirt.  The town is straight out of the Old West and is filled with critters from that ole era as well.  There is Beans, a desert iguana voiced by Isla Fisher, Priscilla a mouse voiced by Abigail Breslin, Tortoise John voiced by Ned Betty and Rattlesnake Jake voiced by Bill Nighy.  Dirt is extremely low on water and there is unrest in the town.  The lawless rule around thems parts.  What these people need is a sheriff, and Rango believes he can play the part.  Can he step up and be so much more when the time calls for it?  You’ll have to see the movie to find out!

Traditionally almost all animated movies are made the same in that the voice talent comes in one at a time, records all their dialogue in a few days all by themselves with the director guiding them on how to deliver their lines and they may come back a few months later to do some additional recording.  There is nothing wrong with this method as it has worked do well for decades.  When Gore Verbinsky, the director of “The Pirates of the Caribbean” movies came on board to direct you might think he would do things a little differently and that’s exactly what he did.  He brought in all his actors at the same time to act out the movie in front of the camera.  This wasn’t a table read, he had small sets built, his talent wore costumes, and he blocked the talent’s movements and caught it all on camera.  He then let the pros at ILM do their magic and magic is exactly what they created on this picture.  I did not find out about this until after the movie, but I did feel Gore directed the movie as if he was directing real people and now I know why.

The animation is flawless that you almost forget you are seeing an animated movie even though you are watching a group of desert animals.  There are tons of laughs throughout the movie and Hans Zimmer creates a great score for it too to go along with the many thrilling sequences throughout the picture.  I want to note that this is not just a “kids” movie.  Everyone will enjoy it, but the movie gets to be pretty deep at times.  That’s something you don’t see too often with animated movies.  There may be a touching moment or two in them, but there is sophistication with “Rango” that really connects with audiences.  Some people may not like that the filmmakers wanted to create so many layers to this piece of art, but I found it refreshing.

For someone who doesn’t like Westerns, I even found myself singing to the “Rango” theme song during the end credits of the movie when I walked out of the advanced screening I saw down in South Beach.  Many of my fellow critics expected that I would dislike the movie knowing my distaste for the Western genre.  They were surprised that I liked it so much.  Once you see it too, you’ll understand why I was won over.  The movie is rated PG for rude humor, language (nothing your children can’t hear), action and smoking and is now playing in theaters across South Florida.