Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Nickelodeon Movie for Adults, ya rly

You know that animated film Johnny Depp did that was meant to be for kids, but turned out to be meant more geared towards adult sensibilities?

Oh yeah I guess he did one of these before, eh?

Well, CleverEuphemism here, and I am bringing you my report on Rango.

It’s kind of like Corpse Bride, minus the corpses, and minus the bride, and plus anthropomorphic animals, and a lot more adult jokes… OKAY SO THEY ARE NOTHING ALIKE, I ADMIT IT!

Rango is the story about a thespian chameleon who has grand ideas and a desire to wow a crowd. But alas, Rango has no public to perform for, for he is a chameleon trapped in a cage, perhaps even… despite all his rage (if the 90s is a blur for you, don’t worry about not getting the reference, instead go get me some prune juice, and some Werther’s). Well, one day, Rango gets out! There is a horrible accident that on the one hand gets Rango free, but also leaves Roadkill, an armadillo voiced by Alfred Molina, looking a bit like this:

Yeah, there is a reason he is called Roadkill as it turns out.

Anyway, once freed, Rango comes upon a town called Dirt. Here, no one knows Rango which allows him to create his own identity and be whoever he wants to be. And at this point in the film, Rango takes on the identity of a western badass that killed seven brothers with a single bullet. And being from a town called Dirt, the townsfolk are willing to believe him, cause, well… they needed something to believe in.

And you thought the economy hit you hard….

This is the point where the movie clearly becomes one geared towards adult sensibilities. For example, we get an enlarged prostate joke. No really, they joke about it. And then the town doctor breaks out a blue latex glove and asks who wants to be the first to get the ol’ finger in the butt. AWKWARD.

Then there are a couple of references made that no one under the age of 15 will get. Hell, I am pretty sure there are a number of 20-somethings who will not get the references.

Why yes, that is Hunter S. Thompson circa Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (also my Halloween costume from last year, but that’s a story for another day)

And then we get to the reference that is pivitol to the film, yet will ring hollow to anyone under the age of, oh, at least 18 or so. For you see, the entire movie, the entire plot, is based on Rango finding the Spirit of the West. This is the mission Rango is given about 5 minutes into the film, and he spends most of the 107 minute runtime trying to find the Spirit of the West. So, you know what he finds when he finally finds the Spirit of the West?

Yeah, he finds Blondie. The Man with No Name. The Sprit of the West. Just animated, and voiced by Timothy Olyphant.

Now, I have no problem with this. I think it is insightful considering what they do. And the imagery they use in this scene paired withthe things that are said work for me. But, I am a movie buff in my mid-20s. There is no way a kid will get this at all. In fact, this is one movie where trying to help the kids understand the plot is not the focus at all.

This is not to say this movie purposely works against the kid-friendly genre, or completely masquerades as a kids film. There are plenty of set pieces in the film that are used to help usher kids along, and keep them entertained.

The owl mariachi band ushers us along very effectively

There are also a number of doe eyed characters that utilize those “Disney eyes” oh so effectively to let you know that they are the good ones.

Priscilla is voiced by Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine)

And to counter that there are the characters with the beady eyes who clearly are anything but good.

Yeah, a rattlesnake with a gun for a tail, you know he is bad… and BADASS (Rattlesnake Jake voiced by Bill Nighy, the not so science guy)

So there are those simple cues for kids, just so when they know when they should cower and cry, or cheer and do cartwheels down the aisles until inevitably hitting the screen at the front of the theatre and ruining the movie experience for everyone because they have to call an ambulance….umm.. stay in school kids, and DON’T BE STUPID!

I give this movie a solid 4 Clint Eastwood hand guns out of 5.

The movie is colorful, and fun. It makes you think; and it actually quite bluntly addresses the audience,and that grey space between your ears a few times. In the end, it works rather effectively.

But I leave you all with a few lingering thoughts. When is a kids’ movie not a kids’ movie? And should kids’ films be held to the same regard and esteem as more “adult” cinema? Because if you peruse reviews of Rango on any aggregator site, it is easy to see how Rango is looked at differently than something like True Grit, or any other recent western film. Beyond that though, one is left wondering how you try to approach a film that tries to bend genres, like Rango, when on the one hand it doesn’t really fit into the genre it is trying to bend in the first place.

Rango: Is this Heaven?
Spirit of the West: If it were, wouldn't we be eating strawberry Pop-Tarts with Kim Novak?



  2. I'm over 18...but act 4...and I got it too ;)

    Great review!

  3. My kids, both under 18 would get it, but only because their father is a western movie buff:) Haven't seen it, will have to watch for it though. Sounds entertaining:)

  4. Simon: Are you sure you are allowed to read this blog? ;)

    Ron: 4 you say? You are at the minimum doubling me up. So good on you for that.

    Mary: Their father is a good man.


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