I wasn’t sure how Johnny Depp would handle the vocal gymnastics of an animated gecko but he is more than up to the task in “Rango”, directed by Gore Verbinski, Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” collaborator. In fact, hats off to all the actors lending their voices to this entertaining mash-up of tried and true spaghetti western elements and John Houston’s “Chinatown”. A “fish, er gecko, out of water”story, a family pet gecko (Depp) suddenly finds himself lost in an desert town called Dirt, doing battle with the corrupt keeper of the town’s water supply and his henchmen. the Dirt inhabitants are an imaginative collection of animated reptiles, insects and amphibians. In fact ,the art design of the entire film is amazing; for example, there’s a quick shot of a faceted barroom shot glass that will make my point.

Special kudos to Hans Zimmer for his musical score and his homage to the great Ennio Mariconne. Actor Timothy Olyphant shows up, to help Rango triumph, as the voice of “The Spirit of West” a dead on Clint Eastwood impression.

This is an early entry for next year’s Best Animation Osar. Rated PG

My GPA: 3.8

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