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Rango Super Bowl spot brings the crazy. In a good way...

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It’s rather “funny-looking”…

Enter Rango...

Visionary Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski (yes, including the much-maligned sequels) and cult character actor Johnny Depp re-team for Rango, a gloriously insane-looking animated comedy western, and the Super Bowl spot is now online.

I’m much more fond of sequels, prequels, remakes, and adaptations than most, but it’s also nice to see something which is so original.

While some people refer to many animated films dismissively as ‘cartoons’, it’s refreshing to see a film which embraces that aesthetic so whole-heartedly. It also seems to have a lot of fun with the cinematic language of Spaghetti westerns. And of course, being inspired by a particular aesthetic style, or even specific things, does not preclude originality.

The trailer is enjoyably self-aware, and even revels in its own quirkiness, promising “action, romance, comedy, adventure, explosions, more explosions, (and) other stuff”. Presumably whatever the other stuff is, it’ll be just as entertainingly nuts as what we’ve seen so far.

Of course, this is just a small taste of what the entire film will be, but it establishes a distinctive, individual tone very effectively in thirty seconds. Though the main character has been described by Verbinski as "a chameleon with an identity crisis”, it seems that the film itself doesn’t suffer from one. Or if it does, then it does in a way that somehow actually works. (Like Dollhouse, where it was not only thematically appropriate, but also as the show established its identity, it neatly echoed Echo’s character arc.)

This is the kind of film that could go one of two ways: either be cruelly underrated by out-of-touch critics and flop at the box office, like Speed Racer, or be fully embraced by both critics and audiences alike, and become a box office smash, like Verbinski’s own Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Hopefully it’s the latter.

The spot features a gleefully macabre musical quartet of owls in sombreros morbidly commenting on the action, for no apparent reason: “The lizard… he is going to die.”; “When is he going to die?”; “Soon, compadre…”

Perhaps the lizard represents the film, being an underdog, with all its quirkiness, and the owls represent a certain type of critic. Or maybe there is no subtext—maybe the film just made those creative choices because they were awesome.

In any case, the film features a wacky, colourful design, an approach that is echoed in the music and sound effects.

The trailer finishes with “Johnny Depp is Rango”, which is arguably not just about who’s playing the title role, but also perhaps hinting that the character represents (or at least is in the tradition of) his career of entertainingly bizarre characters. (Or that all of his roles were, in fact, played by an exceedingly talented (and chameleon-like) chameleon. But that's less likely.)

The voice cast also features the talents of Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, fellow POTC alum Bill Nighy, Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone, Ned Beatty, Claudia Black, Harry Dean Stanton, Ryan Hurst, and Stephen Root.

“Rango” looks set to become a new synonym for crazy, in the best possible way.

Rango is released 4 March 2011 in the US and the UK.

You can download the trailer from Paramount here.

See also:

Transformers 3 Super Bowl spot online


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