We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Rango" is some kind of a miracle: An animated comedy for smart moviegoers, wonderfully made, great to look at, wickedly satirical, and (gasp!) filmed in glorious 2-D. Its brilliant colors and startling characters spring from the screen and remind us how very, very tired we are of simpleminded little characters bouncing around dimly in 3-D.
This is an inspired comic Western, deserving comparison with "Blazing Saddles," from which it borrows a lot of farts. The more movies you've seen, the more you may like it; it even enlists big bats to lampoon the helicopter attack in "Apocalypse Now." But let's say you haven't seen lots of movies. Let's say you're a kid. "Rango" may surprise you because it's an animated film that plays like a real movie and really gets you involved.
The title character is a lizard, voiced by Johnny Depp. Just an ordinary lizard. You know, green and with scales and popeyes. But to this humble reptile comes the responsibility to bring civilization to Dirt, an untamed Western town tormented by villains and running desperately short on water.
The other characters are outsize versions of basic Western types. There is, for example, Rattlesnake Jake (Bill Nighy), the bad man whose gang holds the town in a grip of terror. After Rango accidentally kills the eagle that has been dining on Dirt's citizens, he is persuaded by the mayor (Ned Beatty) to wear the sheriff's badge and bring law to Dirt. This involves tough talk in saloons, face-downs on Main Street and a chase sequence between high canyon walls that's a nod in the direction of "Star Wars."