Once a week for the last several months, my three-year-old daughter has sat in front of the computer watching the Rango trailer over and over again. When Rango first pops up on screen, she jubilantly exclaims, “It’s Rango!” She loves the character already. She knows the dialogue by heart. She can tell you what is going to happen before it happens. Would you expect anything less from my kid?
After a long wait, this week I was finally able to take her to see Rango. Despite entertaining the adults, within the first four minutes she had lost all interest. Even though the Nickelodeon brand name is stamped on Rango, it is hardly a movie made for kids. Rango is a true western. The plot, story, violence and language are made for adults. The occasional slapstick and childish humor is made to tide the kids over, but it is not nearly enough to keep their attention for 107 minutes.
What happens when an unnamed thespian house-pet chameleon is tossed from his lonely-yet-comfortable aquarium and thrust into the bleak wild world of nature? All hell breaks loose. For his entire solitary existence he has tried to literally and figuratively blend into his surrounding. Now outside the literal and figurative box, it is time for self-discovery.
As he enters the old west town of Dirt, after observing the behaviors and mannerisms of the rough and tough locals, our unnamed color-changing aspiring actor protagonist creates his own fitting character. He removes the “du” from “durango” printed on his cactus juice bottle label and names himself Rango. If you were playing a character in the wild west, what type of character would you want to be? Only the grittiest one in the bunch, of course! And that’s exactly who “Rango” pretends to be.
After walking the walk, Rango is forced to talked the talk. By the good fortune of luck, Rango becomes an accidental hero and is appointed Sheriff of Dirt. The townsfolk immediately look to him to solve their dire crisis – a long-running and worsening drought.
The long tale that follows is full of sadness, death, politics, guns and cursing typical of the genre – things mostly not found is standard kids flicks.
Along with every other kid in the audience, my daughter was bored by Rango. The clips and lines from the trailer that made her excited and happy before brought out absolutely no emotional reaction during the screening. She blankly stared at the screen for almost the entire duration of the film. But then again, she is three years old. And that was not the case for the adults. We adults were all laughing and enjoying ourselves. And therein lies the most noticeable problem in Rango - it is simply not made for kids. It’s a great film whose animation at quality is going to give Pixar a run for their money, but no matter what Rango tries to be, through and through it is a film for adults.
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures