Rango is a 2011 film directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Johnny Depp, Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy and others. The film is an ode to Spaghetti Westerns and is also Industrial Light and Magic's first feature-length animated film. It won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature that year.The film plays out as a loving tribute to Westerns of the past, taking its story beats from the classic structure of classic films while maintaining its own course. References to great films of the past abound throughout the film, serving as Easter Eggs for fans of the genre.The movie is also noted for its visual contrast with other wide-release CG animated films. Whereas most other films in the genre tend to go for a clean, idealized look for their world, Rango intentionally avoids this. Most of the characters are based on ugly-looking animals and the whole world seems to have a layer of dirt and grime on it. The result is a setting that looks more "real" in some ways and more cartoonish in others. Either way, it certainly stands out visually.An unnamed lizard falls out of the back of a car and wanders the desert, eventually reaching the town of Dirt. In an effort to impress the locals, the lizard concocts a Badass backstory, adopting the name Rango along the way, that impresses everyone and gets him hired as sheriff by the mayor. But Dirt has its own problems, the town is going through a drought and the town's water supply is disappearing, and it's up to Rango find the cause.
Tropes featured in this film:
Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: While most of the animals are fully clothed, the hawk wears sharpened metal on its beak and claws, the armadillo wears a hat and a small band of cloth, and Rattlesnake Jake wears a flat-crowned hat, some bandoliers, and a gatling gun for a rattle.
Accidental Hero: After the hawk winds up dead trying to make a meal of Rango, the chameleon is hailed a hero for "killing" the hawk and made the town's sheriff. This isn't the last of his dumb luck either.
Actor Allusion: Many, but the most obvious one is when Rango is flying through the air on the highway, he smacks into the windshield of a car driven by Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo. (It doesn't hurt Rango himself wears Duke's Hawaiian shirt.)
The ultra-British Bill Nighy does a stunning accent as Rattlesnake Jake.
Amplified Animal Aptitude: Despite that it's the only non-speaking animal in the film, the redtailed hawk tried (almost successfully) to get Rango out of a glass soda bottle by dropping it from a great height, and successfully dispensed Rango from a vending machine he chose to hide in.
It's not the only non-speaking animal, the bats and the pigs (peccaries?) dragging the carts don't talk either. However the bats count for this trope too, being able to fly like jet planes and maintain a close enough formation to look like a hawk.
Animals Not to Scale: While animals like Rattlesnake Jake, the metal-beaked hawk, and the wise armadillo are of proper size, the citizens who populate the town of Dirt (more specifically a gila monster, fox, turkey vulture, bobcat, and tortoise) are the size of Rango, the former pet chameleon.
Anti Climax Cut: "We RIDE!" Cut to Rango's posse galloping towards... nothing in particular.
Becoming the Boast: By film's end, Rango lives up to be the hero he makes himself out to be. Made evident when he confronts Jake again and Jake can see no fear in his eyes as Rango holds him at gunpoint.
Heck, just don't say anything about him at all. Even if it's perfectly respectful, she'll take it the wrong way.
BFG: Rattlesnake Jake has a set of human-sized revolver chambers in place of his rattle. Also counts as More Dakka.
Big Bad: Not Rattlesnake Jake, but the genial tortoise mayor (voiced, rather appropriately, by Ned Beatty) who's hoarding the town's water.
Big in Finland:invoked According to the official website, this is what Wounded Bird is.
Bilingual Bonus: If you know Spanish, listen closely to the Mariachi Owl Band. During their scene in the jail cell, one of the verses in their funeral dirge translates into "Where are your eggs?" ("eggs" is Spanish slang for "balls").
"Cojones" are also mentioned once or twice. The best has to be, though, when Rango makes a crack about Beans's name, he comments that he enjoys a nice puttanesca, but he wouldn't name his daughter that. As a cognate, in Spanish, "puta" means..."Whore/Bitch/Prostitute!"
Bland-Name Product: The "Golden Guardians." The Oscar is a registered trademark and can't be duplicated, even for novelty purposes; hence, the similar-looking statuettes.
Booze Flamethrower: This happens even though there is no liquor; the cactus juice is the gas. The flame is provided by the cigar Rango eats.
"The signal! Something must've gone wrong!" (As they stand surrounded by a huge clan of hostile groundhogs.)
While ducking a gatling gun, Waffles gives Counselor Troi a run for her money. "I am sensing hostility!"
Cargo Cult: The animals' treatment of human articles, like pipes, because of their "divine" ability to control water. Subveted in that the mayor and his followers have at least a practical knowledge of the water system, and have intentionally built religious trappings around them to control the town.
Carnivore Confusion: Lots! Notice Tortoise John's lackeys and assistant is a gila monster and a desert fox, which eats lizards, rodents and birds - animals that make up almost the entire town! Also, they're wearing boots, which are made from cow hide (and since no one in their right mind would keep cows in such a sweltering desert wasteland, it enters into Fridge Horror when one has to wonder whether they had to use the skins of the dead to make their products).
They could have used the leather of the non-anthropomorphic peccaries for the latter.
Cast of Snowflakes: Every critter in the movie (and there are dozens of them) has a very individual face. Even the moles.
Chekhov's Armoury: Used masterfully. The climax uses practically everything in the entire film. The road from earlier, Roadkill, the walking cacti, and Spirit Of the West, all of which are seen or mentioned at the beginning of the film help Rango out of his Heroic BSOD. They're used again, along with the Mole family, Jake's fear of hawks, the hole dug by the moles, the pipe underground, and Rango's 'one bullet' each play a huge role in defeating the mayor at the end of the film. The writers practically made everything in the entire film a Chekhov's Gun!
Heck, even the little play Rango does at the beginning of the movie turns out to be a plot point during the canyon scene.
Inverted: Interestingly enough, there is no further mention or reference of the huge eye that Rango and his posse obliviously pass by in the underground tunnels, nor the creature that the eye belongs to. (Seriously, what the heck was that thing?)
Rango and Beans are still only saner in comparison.
Comically Missing the Point: One of the volunteers for the posse, Sgt. Turley, has an arrow through his eye, and Rango sheepishly points out, "You've, uh, got a little something in your eye there." Turley seems to think Rango is talking about his conjunctivitis.
Decade Dissonance: The movie is obviously set sometime in the past decade, but the Mouse World of Dirt seems to have gotten stuck in the classical Wild West era (roughly 1860 to 1890) - though it does start to modernize over the course of the film.
Deep South: Even though they're all native to the Southwest, the Mole Clan is pretty much one big satirical look at this trope.
Also their playing banjos during the mounted bat fight alludes to Deliverance.
Diagonal Cut: When Rango tries to hide from the red-tailed hawk in an outhouse, the hawk slices it to ribbons with one swipe of its talons.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Rattlesnake Jake is considered to be a Grim Reaper right out of the pits of hell, and he even seems to believe this about himself to some degree. Rango ultimately defeats him in the end with his wits alone.
At the end, it becomes more like Did You Just Save Cthulhu's Ass? when Rango prevents the mayor shooting Jake.
Disappeared Dad: Beans's father disappeared under "mysterious circumstances".
The Ditz: The little boy that was handling Rango's revolver. Pointing it at his own mother like it was a toy, himself, even staring into the barrel.
Dramatic Drop: Rango, glass in hand, turns and sees a flattened Armadillo talking to him. SMASH.
The Dreaded: Even the Mayor's goons are afraid to call Rattlesnake Jake in.
Dream Land: Once Rango crosses the highway after the confrontation with Rattlesnake Jake, he seems to have stepped out the real West into the mythical West — which accounts for the encounters with spirits and walking cacti.
Driven to Suicide: During his Heroic BSOD, Rango walks across the highway without bothering to look out for the huge vehicles roaring past and over him.
Drowning Pit: The Mayor puts Rango and Beans into a makeshift one via the bank's water vault. Too bad for him it was made of fragile glass.
Even Evil Has Standards: The Mayor is so corrupt that even Rattlesnake Jake, who claims to be from hell itself does off with him after the mayor betrays him. His dialogue calling Rango out on his lies also implies that he has a sense of honor and hates a liar as well.
Meanwhile the Mayor, despite being willing to throw Rango and Beans in a tank to drown, tries to tell Rattlesnake Jake to back off when he's threatening Beans in his office.
This is more of a case of Even the Alpha Bitch Has Standards, but when the mayor puts Beans and Rango in the drowning tank, Angelique looks visibly horrified despite clearly not liking Beans.
Equal-Opportunity Evil: Bad Bill's gang have conspicuously non-American accents (British; German; Mexican; and since they're on the Mayor's side, we'll throw in his French secretary) while the people of Dirt all have easily identifiable Western accents and speech patterns.
Averted with Ambrose the owl, who has a British accent and is one of the good guys and the evil Inbred Rodents who steal the water jug but they redeem themselves in the end.
Eviler than Thou: Seemingly utilized first by Jake who quickly backs Tortoise John off when he criticizes his breaking techniques on Beans, until John attempts to betray Jake and shoot his brains out (which he would have done too if not for that "one bullet"). Following this Jake leans more as an Anti-Villain (albeit with a sinister revenge planned for the defeated John).
Evil Laugh: Rattlesnake Jake give a truly epic one to Rango before he gets ready to duel him in the middle of the town. This is all followed with him slithering out into the middle of the town, taking the time to load his gun (Which is followed by a healthy dose of Dramatic Gun Cock), looking over at Rango with a Slasher Smile, and chuckling quietly under his breath. The fact that he's voiced by Bill Nighy when he does this really sells it.
Exact Words: Tortoise John (who has Beans hostage) tells Rango to "hand over the gun". Rango has no choice but to do exactly as he says, and hands over the gun... without the bullet inside.
Also the Owl band leader saying Rango is definitely going to die. Well, he is... Everyone does eventually...
Exposition Diagram: Using a firelit twig and the night sky, Rango relates the Spirit of the West.
Eye Scream: One of Rango's posse is a chicken with an arrow sticking into his right eye and through the back of his head.
A fly has a taste of cactus juice in the form of a small spill. It gags and collapses dead in the puddle, with one of its eyes popping out.
While it doesn't actually happen, Rattlesnake Jake threatens to "squeeze them pretty brown eyes out of [Beans'] skull!"
Also happens to Waffles during the campfire scene, when Rango accidentally hits him in the eye with a stick.
Eyes Never Lie: The only reason Rattlesnake Jake allows Rango to hold a gun right at his nose and dares him to shoot him is he "doesn't see the killer in his eyes". He gets an Oh Crap moment later when he realizes that Rango does have the killer in his eyes when in the same situation reoccurs at the climax of the film.
Feather Fingers: Most of the bird characters. It's especially noticeable on the mariachi owls, who use them to play their instruments, and the red-tailed hawk, who operates a vending machine to get at Rango, who is hiding inside.
When the Mayor orders his men to call Rattlesnake Jake, they warn him that Jake's a "grim reaper" and, specifically, "never leaves town without taking a soul." The boss waves it off and orders Jake contacted anyway. Jake indeed never leaves town until after he gets a chance to kill someone, the Mayor himself, who he drags away, screaming.
Foregone Conclusion: The mariachi owls periodically assure the audience that Rango will die soon. Well, everyone dies eventually....
Averted rather interestingly with the hawk, who doesn't talk despite displaying problem-solving intellect and an accessory (her metal beak). Even more confusing considering that the avian residents of Dirt have no problem talking.
Given that her sole purpose in coming to town is to find food, it's unlikely that the hawk would be interested in starting a conversation.
This one happens in the foreground (but not at the center of attention), when the tank of water begins to break, the mayor is seen panicking with his wheelchair for a moment, looking for the lever that moves his chair, and accidentally pulls the one that releases his golf club.
Could the sight of the kid playing with Rango's gun be considered a Funny Foreground Event?
Considering she looks down the barrel of a cocked gun and says "There's a bullet in here!" then starts chewing on it, I don't think it matters whichground it is.
Actually more of a Funny Back-sound Event. When the posse introduces themselves as thespians, Waffles can be heard singing "la la la" to the tune that the Mariachi Owls are playing.
Kinda gross actually; in the extended ending, when Beans says: "You come back with all your digits!" there is a gritty-looking child in the back picking its nose.
Furry Confusion: Lots and lots! The intelligent animals like Rango, the shrew girl, the townspeople, and the outlaws wear clothing, wield guns, and have their own American West-style society, while at the same time utilizing roadrunners as horses, bats as flying mounts and javelinas to pull wagons (which brings up whole new levels of confusion when a javelina-like blacksmith was briefly visible in one scene!). One also can't forget the few bits of 'insect confusion' that occur between the dead cricket in Rango's enclosure, the life-size pillbugs used as golf balls, and the insect (including a spider and a scorpion - although they're not really insects but that's beside the point since neither are pillbugs) denizens that populate the town of Dirt, including in one scene where Rango tries to emulate the walking style of a clothed beetle. See also Animals Not to Scale above.
Furry Reminder: When a dragonfly buzzes past Rango's face, he sticks out his tongue and eats it.
Gatling Good: One of the many enemies Rango encounters are an entire clan of moles riding bats mounted with little gatling guns. Not to mention Rattlesnake Jake having a machine gunfor a rattle.
Genius Ditz: Rango is very aware that he's only digging himself deeper with his lies, but he's also very aware of his surroundings and is able to competently think up solutions to his problems. He's even able to piece together the mayor's water-hoarding scheme.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The film is pretty much built on this trope. Saying they pushed that PG rating as far as they could is an understatement.
Spoons: "What's the matter? You missing your mommy's mangos?'' Rango: "As a matter of fact, I am... but not as much as your DADDY'S COOKING!"
"Know that I will be there, watching you! Sometimes, at inappropriate moments! That's part of the deal."
At the end of the extended cut, there is a stand that offers baths. The sign says a "Fresca/Melenee Tag Team" is $8 and an "Angelique French Surprise" is $6. To top it all off, a scantily dressed mouse women in front of the stand says "Water ain't money, money is money now! We're talkin' hard cash!"
Another exchange from the extended cut:
''She got more holes in her than a painted lady on a porcupine.'
Hey! My daddy took me to her place! Not what I expected... (cue awkward stares)''
The German version kicks the radar square in the nuts and shoots it with a double barrel, since there are atleast two instances of the word bitch/whore (Schlampe) being used. The scene where Rango gets his sheriffs clothing is of particular note, as Beans is practically screaming it right at the camera before blanking out, refferring to Angelique. The word ass (Arsch) is also used faintly in the background when the Rango is watching the moles through binoculars. The father is hitting his son, and threatens to "beat up his ass." The movie is rated 6 and up...
Go Mad from the Isolation: In the opening, Rango definitely looks like he's reached this point, and maybe even surpassed it, to the point where every inanimate object in his glass box has a name (even the dead bug), and personalities attributed to them, and he hears them talking to him. Which really isn't surprising, since he's probably spent his whole life stuck in that cage without anyone to talk to but himself.
Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Rango is wearing a red Hawaiian shirt at the beginning. When he adapts to life in Dirt, he gets himself several sets of cool cowboy outfits.
Hero Killer: While he doesn't kill any heroes on screen, Rattlesnake Jake is stated to have killed Dirt's previous sheriff, and certainly has the reputation of a classic HK.
Heroic BSOD: Rango in spades after Rattlesnake Jake calls him out. He walks across a road full of traffic and emerges unscathed. He's brought before the Man With No Name, who finally breaks him out of it.
Angelique is also more humanlike than the rest of the cast, be they male or female.
Humans Are Cthulhu: Subtle, but definitely there. The road and cars, while mundane to humans, are enough of an incomprehensible barrier for the animals to become integral to a spiritual quest. The Mayor talks of controlling water as divine power, and the glimpse of Las Vegas and its sprinklers is like seeing Cthulhu's city. Not to mention the fact that humans stole the water from the valley in the first place, have enough of it to just dump in the desert, and the Cargo Cult treatment human artifacts like pipes get.
Beans: Go to hell! Rattlesnake Jake: Where do you think I come from?
Interspecies Romance: Rango is a chameleon and Beans is an iguana. Both lizards, but very different species.
One of Rango's lies is that he and Jake are brothers, and his mother had an active social life.
Ironic Echo: Rango likes to tell tall tales. One such tale was to claim that him and Rattlesnake Jake were brothers and had acquired an immunity to his venom. When the two finally meet, Jake pulls out a shot glass, filling it with his own venom, and offering it to Rango while taunting him with the line "Hello, brother. Thirsty?"
Later in the movie, Rango devises a brilliant plan to give the town its water back, and then some. He calls out Jake for a showdown, timing his actions exactly so that Jake would be directly over the hole from earlier in the movie, which is where the first burst of water would naturally come out. At 12:01 exactly, Rango smirks up at the snake and says "Thirsty, brother'?"
When The Mayor turns on Jake, he mentions it's because of old style cowboys like him becoming unnecessary and that once he's gone "No one will believe you ever existed." However, when Rango breaks out of the drowning pit and lets Jake deal with the Mayor, he says "Now what was that you said? Pretty soon no one will believe you ever existed?'"
Limited Wardrobe: Averted with Rango, since he starts with the Hawaiian shirt, gets his hat, then long-johns, a full caballero outfit, and then the cowboy outfit and poncho. True for everyone else, though.
Line-of-Sight Name: "Rango" isn't the main character's real name. He just saw it on the back of his cactus juice bottle: Hecho en Durango (Made in Durango). He had no real name before this (according to the DVD Commentary, there was a misconception about his real name being Lars. Lars was actually just another background character Johnny Depp voiced).
Little Miss Badass: Priscilla wants to be one, and shows Rango she's got a lot of spunk. However, he tells her to stay behind, perhaps too afraid of endangering her. On a side note, their entire dynamic resembles that of Mattie and Cogburn in True Grit.
Messianic Archetype: After Rattlesnake Jake's Hannibal Lecture, Rango drops his sheriff's badge among the tombstones on Boot Hill; the invented character of "Rango" is dead. He crosses to the other side, and after his encounter with God, wait I mean the Spirit of the West, he returns to the cemetery just as the wind exhumes the badge for him to pick up again in a symbolic resurrection.
Mix-and-Match Critters: According to a special on the DVD, Beans has the traits of at least two different lizards. To be fair, the character designers admitted that they were going for Rule of Cool on the species types.
Motor Mouth: Beans can really churn it out when flustered. Some of Rango's boasts are also shot out like crazy.
Mouse World: Dirt is your typical western town, but for desert critters, and built out of scrap.
The Munchausen: Rango, who is very good at telling tall tales about himself.
Some wizened old guys in Rango's posse.
Buford: "I once coughed up a Dalmatian. Elgin: One time I coughed up an entire tribe of pygmies. They started lookin' at me funny. Spoons: I once found a human spinal column in my fecal matter once. [Everyone looks at him]
Oh Crap: Just about all the villains get a turn, and Rango almost makes a specialty of it. Metalbeak the hawk has a particularly notable one, just before the water tower gets dropped on her head.
Rattlesnake Jake's gets a close-up when Rango points his gun at him during the climax, this time with no fear in his eyes.
Rattlesnake Jake gets an epic one when he sees a hawk in the sky, until quickly discovering the ruse.
The Mayor after doublecrossing Jake, when he discover that his gun is empty.
Rango's face upon seeing Rattlesnake Jake pretty much just screams this trope.
One Bullet Left: A running theme in the movie based off Rango's lie that he killed seven men with one bullet (sorta...the seventh one "died from infection"). During the hawk chase scene in town, he accidentally kills it by shooting the licorice that was wrapped around him. The bullet ricochets and hits the tower causing it to fall on the bird. During the climax, Rango uses it to intimidate Jake, then shortly after uses it to get out of the drowning pit the mayor put him and Beans into. Jake also uses this line when it comes to giving Tortoise John his due.
One-Hit Polykill: Rango claims to have killed the Jenkins Brothers with one bullet. All seven of them.
Precision F-Strike: This film isn't shy about swearing despite being a family film. One particularly jarring scene is when Rattlesnake Jake is squeezing Beans to death and says, "Sign the damn paper, woman!"
Red Herring: The mole family who try to rob the bank. While they actually were trying to steal Dirt's water reserve for themselves and appear to have a water jug when Rango and his posse arrive, at the end of the long chase sequence, everyone learns said jug was empty by the time the moles got there. The Big Bad is revealed soon after.
Rango's final showdown with Jake. He scares Jake by having the bat-riding moles fly in a hawk formation and when Jake figures it out he gets cocky and empties his ammo into the sky, allowing Rango to stroll right up to him and point his revolver right between his eyes.
Super-Persistent Predator: Double subverted. The metal-beaked hawk pursues Rango all-out at first, until she ends up grabbing the desert toad instead. Later, the hawk makes a return appearance, chasing him through the town until Rango's one-bullet accident drops the town's water tower on her. May actually be a case of Fridge Brilliance, if you consider Metalbeak not as a random desert predator, but specifically posted to keep outsiders from reaching the town, and keep the townspeople confused and afraid. Someone gave her the beak-blade.
Highly likely seeing as the hawk was "the only thing keeping Rattlesnake Jake away" from Dirt. The Mayor would need to stop Jake from interfering in his own plans until he needed him. Certainly the You Have Outlived Your Usefulness scene implies the Mayor was worried Jake would turn against him at a future point, and decided to get rid of his scaly partner while he was vulnerable.
Tonight Someone Dies: Parodied shamelessly. At the start of the film, the lead mariachi who serves as the narrator informs us that Rango is going to die. At the end, Rango is still alive and well, and the narrator simply points out that his prediction will come true sooner or later, since Rango is as mortal as the next guy.
Trailers Always Lie: A rather bizarre example of Getting Crap Past the Radar. In one of the trailers, Rango is showing talking to the one-armed torso of a Barbie doll which has a bra covering its chest. In the movie, it's not wearing anything.
Weird West: Talking animals, prophetic dream sequences, spirits, walking cacti, and that giant, unexplained eyeball.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The Fox Secretary kinda disappears at the end, although she does show up before the mayor puts Rango and Beans in the vault to drown. Despite all the bickering she and Beans took part in before, she genuinely seems horrified that her boss is about to kill them.
She appears again in the Blu-Ray version's extended ending, apparently getting along fine with everyone else...apart from the fact that there's a porcupine enjoying the rapidly-deflating kiddie pool.
"We have a problem."
The Giant Eye Of Doom that they all just casually dismiss down in the caverns. But that was meant to be more of a throwaway gag probably.
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Thoroughly subverted—almost none of the characters, good or bad, could be called "cute" or "cuddly", with the possible exception of Abigail Breslin's aye-aye character, but the nice ones are still very likable.
Though there did seem to be very few carnivores amongst the town people, most were herbivores or insectivores, while carnivores were treated as villains and brigands. So there is a bit of an edge case of this in the movie, as carnivores are seldom seen as "cute" and the only two carnivores are "cute carnivores" (cat and fox).
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Ironically, Rattlesnake Jake. He is deathly afraid of hawks, what with them being his natural predator. This is used against him in the climax; the moles and their bats ride in a formation that looks like a hawk. It works initially, but Jake sees through it pretty quickly.
Worthy Opponent: Rattlesnake Jake's impression of Rango by the end of the film.
Xanatos Gambit: Rango himself pulls one off in the climax: even though Rattlesnake Jake eventually realizes the "hawk" is actually a flock of bats, Rango still succeeded in making him waste all his ammo.
You Remind Me of X: Beans confiding that she doesn't meet a lot of folks down on the ranch. "Sorta like being sealed up in a little box." Rango chuckles unconvincingly and claims he wouldn't know anything about that.
You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Jake pulls this on Rango the first time they face-off, knowing he doesn't have the nerve to pull the trigger. When they end up in that situation again, he now sees that Rango does have the nerve and backs off.