Many feature length cartoons involve cuddly animals, friendly toys or fairy princesses, so it’s natural to assume that almost all animated films are aimed at children. But as anyone who experienced weeks of kiddie nightmares after taking their six-year-old to Coraline will tell you, it’s not always the case.
That animated adventure Rango is about a pet chameleon who ends up in a sort of reptile Wild West populated by evil gun-slinging snakes, spider undertakers and lizard henchmen may tip you off that this is not for very junior members of the audience, as may the fact that it’s directed by Gore Verbinski, who made the first three Pirates Of The Caribbean movies (all of which would probably petrify the under-sevens) and the remake of the Japanese horror The Ring.
After a pet chameleon (Depp) with illusions of being an actor finds himself accidentally abandoned on a dusty roadside, he walks to the desert town of Dirt, and stumbles into the role of sheriff after inadvertently killing a hawk that had been terrorising the town. Calling himself Rango, he’s soon trying to solve the town’s drought problem while coming up against Dirt’s suspicious tortoise mayor (Beatty). Can the weedy chameleon save the day (and the town)?
Older kids, especially boys and Western fans, may well enjoy this adventure, while grown-ups will be impressed by the detailed animation and amused by the movie references that encompass everything from Chinatown, the movies of Sam Peckinpah and a battle scene from Apocalypse Now to Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas and a nod to a certain spaghetti Western movie legend. The story, too, has its moments when it eventually gets going (the plot set-up is sloooow), and it’s all very clever, slick and witty (even if the fact that Rango is a chameleon is under utilised). Quite good, then – just not for the whole family…
Is Rango suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
As mentioned above, this isn’t suitable for easily scared children and isn’t recommended for the under-8s.
Among the more frightening moments for young ones:
A scary hawk chases Rango early on in the movie, and returns later to terrorise the town.
All the characters (even the nice ones) are unpleasant looking lizards, rats, tortoises, etc.
There is a threatening snake called Rattlesnake Jake who is pretty scary.