Slice of Life: At the Movies with Rango

Slice of Life 2011It was a rainy post-winter/pre-spring day yesterday, so I grabbed my middle son and a friend and went to the movies. The place was mobbed. I suspect they were all feeling as we were: get out of the house.

The movie we chose was Rango (with voice by Johnny Depp as Rango the lizard) and I have to say it had to have been one of the oddest animated movies I have seen in quite some time. I’m not sure if it is was for kids, or for the parents. The story opens in a way that brought me right back to college, when I was completely taken by the Carlos Castaneda series of Shaman Philosophy books about finding oneself by metaphorically exploring inward (peyote apparently helps).

“A man can’t walk out of his own story.” (or something like that)

This quote came and went throughout the movie as the protagonist (who calls himself that at the start of his adventure in a sort of meta-nod to the audience watching) is thrust into an Western adventure where water is a commodity in short supply. And it rambled around  in my head.

Rango is filled with references to many movies and books that completely escaped the kids. Here are some that stuck out with me:

  • Greek drama (some birds sing out the Greek Chorus)
  • Chinatown (“control the water”)
  • Wizard of Oz (the hawk/witch gets killed)
  • The No-Name Westerns of Clint Eastwood
  • Shane
  • Any old-time Western movie you have ever seen

I’m not saying Rango was great. It was interesting. My son and his friends didn’t like it. I tried to explain that what I liked was how it didn’t feel like a Disney movie — it had a different style.

“It’s not Disney, dad, it’s Nickleodean,” my son grumbled.

Peace (in the hot sun),

  1. So,
    would you recommend to say, me, an adult? It has been the new hot thing but I would like to hear more about why it didn’t work for the boys… Nicklelodean, not Disney, dad. I love that,

    • I think the humor was … different … more esoteric, in nature. Not the standard fart jokes, etc. You might like it from the movie buff standpoint. But I wouldn’t worry if you miss it.

  2. I love your son’s line! In my slice I just posted about how our morning started out with the same weather as you had, but the afternoon felt like a nice warm spring day, so we were able to spend hours in the backyard. It was so nice!

  3. The write-up in the LATimes said there should be a trivia game trying to identify how many movie references any one person can spot in this movie. It’s been advertised pretty hard here in our LA market, and I might go see it. While the review in the paper was positive, I’ve been waiting for the “man on the street” review about the movie. Sometimes all these inside jokes just get in the way of the movie. Thanks for you (and your son’s) appraisal.

  4. I’ve seen the trailer a couple of times over the past few weeks, and I have to say that Rango is a movie that holds absolutely no appeal for me. Based on your experience, I don’t think we’ll be going to see it.

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