Wild West Animated Film for Tweens and Teens
The good, the bad, and the ugly. If you like westerns, Johnny Depp's imaginative roles, great animation, riffs on acting and the philosophy of life, or just looking at amphibians, reptiles and birds in a new way, then you will probably like Rango. This is not an upbeat Pixar or Disney animated film with pratfalls, constantly goofy side-kicks, or a storyline appropriate for young kids. This film will, instead, appeal to adults who like Johnny Depp's offbeat sensibility. If your kids are not scared by Pirates of the Caribbean films, they are not going to be scared by Rango. There are scary elements -- menacing snake, flying bats, animals nearly killed by cars -- but nothing as dark as any Pirates film. But there are allusions to the third Pirates film that my son spotted. A problem with this film for tweens and teens is that they may not get all the references to westerns, including a Clint Eastwood character, or a storyline that parallels the film Chinatown (which would be a great film to watch with an older teen who's a film buff). I liked the voices, the way the storyline twists a little bit unexpectedly, and the detailed animation style. We had seen how the film was created beforehand and those videos enhanced our viewing of this film. Yeah, there's smoking and drinking a kind of alcohol in this film, but it's not glorified. In the end, the values that come out on top are: working together in a community against a common bad guy, independent girls and women, staying true to yourself as well as a higher purpose, and sticking with a problem until you solve it. Plus, the soundtrack is amusing and the owl mariachi band, echoing a Greek chorus, are fun.
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