Daily Archives: October 6, 2011

Rango (2011)

It’s Chinatown remade with anthropomorphic desert creatures. It’s a Western by way of Hunter S. Thompson. It’s a loving parody of cinema’s wide canvas. It’s one of the most wild, anarchic, oddball animated films to ever be released by a major studio, and it is stupendous. Steeped in weirdness and bravado, Rango has a playful and occasionally macabre sense of humor that kept me in stitches. Director Gore Verbinski (the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks) translates his visual verve into a animated movie that dazzles the eyes with its magnificently drawn features as well as the pointed personality in every stroke. This is a movie with character, not to mention some pretty entertaining characters (including talking road kill). Johnny Depp delivers an idiosyncratic vocal performance for a household lizard that finds himself pretending to play sheriff for a town in need of a hero. When you think Rango will fade into familiar territory, or easy moral messages, the film keeps surprising, forging its own unique path. This is a lively, peculiar, and overall enchanting animated film that’s suitable for families but may well play better for adults with eccentric tastes. I’m still scratching my head, and celebrating, how something like this slipped through the system.

Nate’s Grade: A

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (2011)

You’d think that a behind-the-scenes documentary in the immediate aftermath of Conan O’Brien being paid $30 million to walk away from his dream job hosting The Tonight Show would have plenty of drama and revelations. It doesn’t. This thin documentary mostly just tags along on O’Brien’s multi-city comedy tour during the time he was contractually obligated to not appear on TV. O’Brien doesn’t go into much detail about the Tonight Show brouhaha, making only vague references to his ouster in conversations about confronting his anger. Fans of the gawky comedian will be put off by O’Brien’s often hurtful, prickly behavior toward his subordinates and co-workers. He has a biting wit but often that wit has a discernible edge, making everyone feel uncomfortable, and now you too at home. His bitterness always seems to be bubbling. He’s a conflicted man, bemoaning meeting and greeting fans, citing the exhaustive nature of always being “on,” but then in the next moment he’ll charge into a crowd to feel alive again. Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is a lackluster documentary that has a few laughs since it does chronicle a road show about funny people, but it’s not too long before even O’Brien fans might wish that he’d just stop.

Nate’s Grade: C

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