Sunday, March 6, 2011

Surprisingly, I Liked Rango

Most of my friends have stopped going to the movies with me, because I either A) Hate the movie and deconstruct why it sucked all the way home or B) Gush about what a babe Ewan McGregor/Jeff Goldblum/Walton Goggins/Whoever was.  I've stopped liking what theaters expect me to like, and of the Oscar nominated films last year, I saw 2 and I guess only liked one of them (fuck you, Inception, you're not fooling me!)  Of last year, I only enjoyed I Love You Phillip Morris, Morning Glory, the Last Exorcism and yes, Predators (I didn't say it was good). 

And this year, I'm only excited about Cowboys and Aliens because it combines three great things--Harrison Ford, Walton Goggins and Clancy Brown.  But mostly the first two.  It's like my 11 year old self and my 28 year old self are giving each other a high five.  And . . . yeah, that was the only movie I was planning to see.

POINT IS that I was certainly not planning to see Rango.  I gave up on Johnny Depp, officially, after Public Enemies.  I'd mostly written him off following Pirates of the Carribbean 2 and gave in, with regret, to Sweeney Todd.  I got tired of his shtick and missed the Johnny Depp I'd loved when all the other girls I knew were in love with Justin Timberlake--Depp's quiet, nuanced, subltle performances in Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood.  I didn't like his trademarked wackiness, which felt to me like a half-reheated Hot Pocket version of his Hunter S. Thompson gag.

Sad to say, Rango had a lot of that Johnny Depp-ness, including a cameo by Raul Duke himself (with an awesome homage to Ralph Steadman serving as Dr. Gonzo). 

And in spite of this, I really, really liked Rango.

For starters, the film doesn't cater to any demographic.  Movies are made, for the most part, to appeal at least two of these demographics: teenage males, teenage females, older men, older women, and stupid little kids.  This movie appealed to none of that.  Everyone (thing?) in this film is ugly and un-plush-able.  Johnny Depp is not awkwardly hot, he's a freakin' lizard.  There is a lot of grown-up humor in the film, but not enough for packs of adults to get a babysitter and go out on a Saturday night.  Films that don't appeal to any demographic appeal to the Me Demographic.  I don't like being labled and I don't like being pandered to.  Studios don't know me, because if they did, they wouldn't have taken so long to release I Love You Phillip Morris and Walton Goggins would be a leading man. 

This compared to the two previews which opened the film--the revolting-looking 3D CG crap-a-ganza Mars Needs Moms (it was fun with it lasted, Princess and the Frog) and the utterly generic Kung-Fu Panda 2 (I miss the offensive, loud Jack Black that I hated) two films which appear to prove that kids are stupid and their parents are also stupid.

Rango is dark.  It's very dark.  And weird.  There were moments where I felt a little awkward, like watching Rango flirt with a naked headless Barbie torso (three minutes in), or the presence of massive frog prostitute boobs.  There's a lot of western-y type stuff even I didn't catch onto at first and a body count that rivals Hardboiled.  There's talking roadkill.  Creepy walking cactuses.  Massive frog prostitute boobies.  The plot to Chinatown.  It's not not a kid's film in that kids can't handle this (after all, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is dark and weird and wonderful) it's not a kids film because they probably don't get it or care. 

And that's fine, because again, it wasn't trying to appeal to any demographic.  They made the film they wanted to make at a time when everything has to be based on a pre-existing franchise.  Gore Verbinski didn't get locked into how many toys he could sell or how many teen girls would buy Rango-inspired lipgloss sets at Claires.  He made the movie he wanted to make, and it STILL kicked the ass of vanity projects like Take Me Home Tonight .  . . . and that is the ultimate Hollywood Fuck You.

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