The folks at Pixar should be worried. In conjunction with Industrial Light and Magic, director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) has created a gorgeously animated western that doesn't need any stinking 3-D effects to entertain or pump up its profit margin.
Johnny Depp is the voice of Rango, a chameleon who goes from being a caged family pet to fulfilling his destiny in the Mojave Desert. A chance meeting with a girl lizard named Beans (voiced by Isla Fisher) brings the personality-perplexed Rango into the town of Dirt.
A dwindling water supply threatens to make Dirt a ghost town in a matter of days. Although clumsy, Rango has the gift of gab. He sizes up the town's ornery populace of motley animal citizens and proceeds to win them over with a tall tale about killing seven notorious outlaws with a single bullet.
When Rango initiates the death of a silver-beaked hawk during a wild chase around town, he's rewarded with a sheriff's badge by the mayor (Ned Beatty). Whether or not Rango can keep his promise to solve the town's water problem is the big question. Precise slapstick gags, witty dialogue and a narrative that borrows from Chinatown add to the pleasure of this meticulously made comedy. With more visual impact and narrative wealth than two Toy Story 3s put together, Rango is a PG-rated home-run. Grade: A-
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