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Rango


Laughing the Western to death

The lizard is wandering through the desert, not knowing whether he is ready to die, mumbling to himself, in a daze: Four score & seven years ago, our fathers brought forth into this land… Soon enough, he has to run from an eagle. He survives somehow, but he gets some other lizard killed, accidentally enough; later, he’ll get that eagle killed equally accidentally. Then he meets a southern-accented lizard talking in clichés. She’ll love him soon enough; kids know these things. All the time, we get commentary from Mexican owls of some kind, who are not in the least hopeful about or interested in our protagonist. Call them the common sense band.

The lizard fancies himself an actor. Playing a role should come to him then. But he does not know who he is. This lizard is no man. He answers hostility with tall tales that keep getting taller, as the trouble starts brewing, & soon enough he has to face up to his spurious reputation. Likely as not, he will never even seem harsh, but that does not mean he cannot provoke disasters… In times like these, our young ones supposedly learn about the way of the world… For example, Rango is quick on his feet & makes a lot of distractions – & what is as important as surprise? – but he does not seem to love the chase.

If a western comedy with animals is not your pleasure, let me give you the plot. It is a straightforward mystery: a desert town about to be annihilated by thirst; the water bank is robbed; suspicious arrangements occur behind closed doors, we glimpse them briefly, our happy-go-lucky protagonist not at all. He stumbles somehow into a couple of fights that somehow end up pinning the tin star on him. You could wonder why the people like him; maybe he is their stooge. Then a posse is formed to catch the thieves, but finds nothing. Then the great mystery is revealed & the grand finale has to live up to all the hype, but I cannot spoil it for you.

The good guy is like the bad guy, but good; progress threatens wild freedom; the sheriff stares back the mob… A Clint Eastwood puppet says that a hero cannot abandon his story. There must be some irony there. Our protagonist is told it is not about him, but about them – us. It is flattering, but why watch him then? Why not watch ourselves? Our protagonist had lost faith in himself; he seemed faithless to begin with… Self-assertion has been replaced by self-doubt. He dresses up like Clint Eastwood to attend a gunfight. But there is no gunfight.

For fans of Johnny Depp