Monday, March 7, 2011

TGD Movie Review: The West is Won by Rango

It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a movie here, which is most likely because I haven’t gone to see one on opening weekend in long time, which is most likely because…you know what, I’m going to end that there and get to my review of the movie my wife and I took my two sons to see over the weekend: Rango.

Johnny Depp stars as the voice talent behind the lead character, Rango, in the western style CGI animated film from Nickelodeon set in the Mojave Desert. Overall, my entire family enjoyed it. My wife and I may have enjoyed it more than our kids, in fact. If you’re looking for a kids movie that you won’t want to try and asphyxiate yourself on popcorn in the middle of just to end the pain, this is a pretty solid choice. But, as with any movie, there are things to be aware of.

The Plus Side: There was plenty of humor. Jokes and slapstick exchanges will keep your kids entertained throughout. And you adults will enjoy the humor as well. Seldom was there a joke just for kids that parents might find hokey, and there was plenty of adult-targeted humor that went sailing over my sons’ heads and appealed to my wife and I.

As far as the plot goes, it wasn’t the most complex, but it was enjoyable. You could figure out who the bad guy was after only a hint or two but you were still interested in watching how the hero figured it out and what he did about it. Classic devices are used, but Rango is definitely an anti-hero type and you don’t see that often with animated films.

Did I mention the action? The chases and exchanges of gunfire will keep you so captivated, you won’t have time to question why the bats that the moles are riding burst into flames when they get hit. I know that last sentence doesn’t make sense, but that is the beauty of this movie. Most of what is happening throughout makes very little sense, but it mashes together and works somehow. All while being visually stunning.

But, there are things to be aware of…

The Down Side: To start with, if you are an ultra-conservative parent…well, then you probably aren’t taking your kids to the movie anyway. But, if you have a problem with them hearing certain words, beware. I don’t think a single character doesn’t say Hell at some point. Hell, it’s probably said at least fifty times throughout the movie. Just like that, in fact. There are also a few Damns and a Bitch that gets self-censored by the film as another sound washes over it (in what I found to be a rather hilarious way, but you can feel free to disagree). Still, if your kids know the word, they’ll know it’s what was being said.

There are also a few jokes that are on the raunchier side. I don’t want to ruin any of them, but let’s suffice to say that my wife and I are fairly liberal regarding what movies we let our kids see and we still cringed a few times and looked over to see if my sons caught the joke. That is, of course, after we laughed hysterically first.

The action, though one of my favorite parts, might be one of your biggest problems with letting your kids see this movie. There are guns pulled out and pointed everywhere constantly. There is a lot of gunfire and a fair amount of explosions (did I mention the bats?) so if you find that sort of thing too violent, be prepared to cover little eyes. Or don’t go see the movie, I suppose, but where is the fun in that?

Finally, the animation must be mentioned. If you are thinking of taking a little one, like pre-school age and below, be prepared for them to be frightened at times. The animation is so lifelike and the animals shown so close-up at times that they can look downright creepy. Some shots may cause a younger child to squeal or want to climb into your lap and bury their face in your shoulder.

The Wrap Up: Overall, it’s an entertaining movie. There’s something in it for everyone and nothing in it so scarring and controversial that it can’t be handled with an honest conversation. I would highly recommend you taking your family to see it.

As an added bonus, if you like westerns and want your kids to start watching them with you, this would serve as a great transition film. I, for one, have been considering pulling out the DVD of Fist Full of Dollars and watching it with my sons soon.

TGD Rating: 4/5 Star. That is four fifths of a star, not four stars out of five. One full star is Transformer Generation Dad’s highest rating and should be considered an honor. Do you realize how big a star actually is?

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