"Rango" is one of those films that I love simply because it exists.
The fact that Gore Verbinski took all the box-office clout he earned directing the mega-blockbuster "Pirates Of The Caribbean" trilogy and used it to make a spaghetti western about a domesticated chameleon who ends up alone in the desert, animated completely by a company that has never made a full-length animated film… that is so totally preposterous that I feel like it's this great magical little accident, worth extra scrutiny right away.
The good news is that, for the most part, "Rango" is a wild and witty race through a variety of genre conventions, twisted through the filter of a bunch of strange-looking anthropomorphic animals running a riff on "Chinatown." Yes, that's right. It's "Chinatown." For kids. With animals. In the old west.
There's a sophisticated silliness to what Verbinski and ILM have accomplished here, and the mix of slapstick with nimble verbal wit with designs by Crash McCreery, unchained after years of bringing some of the best-known fantastic creatures in pop cinema to life, is almost intoxicating. "Rango" feels unhinged at its best moments, like anything might happen, and it's liberating to see such talented people running so absolutely off the rails.
I mean that as a good thing, by the way.