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I tip my hat to you, one legend to another.
Genre: Animation
Spaghetti Western
Directed By: Gore Verbinski
Produced By: Gore Verbinski
Graham King
John B. Carls
Written By: John Logan
Gore Verbinski
James Ward Byrkit
Starring: Johnny Depp
Isla Fisher
Abigail Breslin
Ned Beatty
Alfred Molina
Bill Nighy
Stephen Root
Harry Dean Stanton
Ray Winstone
Timothy Olyphant
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: February 14, 2011 (Westwood premiere)
March 4, 2011 (United States)
Runtime: 107 minutes
111 minutes (extended cut)
Country: United States
Budget: $135 million
Box Office: $245.7 million
Prequel: The Last Airbender
Sequel: The Adventures of Tintin

Rango is a 2011 American 3D computer-animated Western action-comedy film directed by Gore Verbinski, written by John Logan, and produced by Verbinski, Graham King, and John B. Carls with the voices of actors Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant, Stephen Root, and Ned Beatty. It was produced by Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, Verbinski's Blind Wink Productions, King's GK Films, and Industrial Light & Magic. The film premiered at Westwood on February 14, 2011, and was released in the United States on March 4, 2011, by Paramount Pictures.


A chameleon (Johnny Depp) who has lived as a sheltered family pet finds himself in the grip of an identity crisis. Rango wonders how to stand out when it is his nature to blend in. When he accidentally winds up in a frontier town called Dirt, he takes the first step on a transformational journey as the town's new sheriff. Though at first Rango only role-plays, a series of thrilling situations and outrageous encounters forces him to become a real hero.

Why It Should be the New Sheriff

  1. Rango boasts quite a number of darker and mature undertones that you wouldn't normally expect from a PG, animated Nickelodeon movie like some language, violence, sexual themes, and death. Of course, the mature themes are handled well without having to go too far and instead takes risk while also balancing the dark themes out.
  2. Borrowing heavily from classic and comedy Westerns films, and other films, including The Shakiest Gun in the West, A Fistful of Dollars, Chinatown, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, Cat Ballou, The Three Amigos, Raising Arizona and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas; as well as references to earlier ILM works including the dogfight in the Death Star trench in Star Wars, the film reinvents a past formula in an amusingly creative way.
  3. The characters are all likable and entertaining, such as Rango himself, an eccentric but intelligent and heroic chameleon, and Beans, a hotheaded but good-hearted desert iguana and Rango's love interest.
  4. The film is revolutionary in its CG animation. The quality and textures of the animals and landscape are simply spot-on and never ceases to amaze with all its little yet high detail. It has aged very well, even to this day. What even helps with this film stand out that it was animated by Industrial Light & Magic, who have only ever done fully realistic effects before this.
    • Many of the designs of the animals also have some asymmetry to them (even with Rango himself), which is very unique and something you normally don't see in animated films.
  5. The score by the legendary Hans Zimmer is once again underrated, majestic and exciting (influences from his work in the Pirates of the Caribbean films and Sherlock Holmes are easily heard, but with a Mexican Western-theme style twist!).
    • What's more awesome than a chase scene involving critters riding bats like fighter planes in pursuit of our heroes? Doing so to a Western-style version of "Ride of the Valkyries". Playing "Ride of the Valkyries" during an aerial assault scene? Meh. Playing "Ride of the Valkyries" during an aerial assault scene on banjos? Hilarious.
    • The 'final showdown' music in which Rango recovers his discarded sheriff's badge from Boot Hill is chilling and inspiring — as well as a spot-on homage to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • The credits music, "Walk Don't Rango", which sounds like a Western remix of Misirlou is is exactly as awesome as that sounds.
    • "End of The Road", a song that played in The Kingdom and made a reappearance here when Rango is banished from the town. It fits the scene perfectly and beautifully because of its depressing tone.
  6. The voice acting cast is of course lively and fun, bringing a unique quality to each and every animal character, mostly Johnny Depp.
  7. The high-concept with premise of animals instead of humans in the Wild West is very original, cool and uncommon.
  8. The directing of Gore Verbinski is excellent.
  9. Not only do the characters move convincingly, but the colors look gorgeous and the backgrounds are imaginative and stunning as well.
  10. A good script that gives space and great subtle lines to each and every character.
  11. Some decent character development.
  12. Tortoise John is a decent primary villain, but Rattlesnake Jake is actually a very intimidating secondary villain (being even more dangerous than the main villain, Tortoise John), he also is a Rattlesnake with a Gatling gun on his rattle, which makes him very creative and memorable.
  13. The extended version adds several scenes, including the final scene in which the flooded town is now a beach resort renamed Mud and Rango rides out to deal with news that Bad Bill is causing trouble elsewhere, if you're more interested in the film's extended cut than the theatrical cut.

Bad Qualities

  1. The film is a little too slow-paced at times, especially the first act where it takes Rango almost 20 minutes to arrive to Dirt.
  2. Despite having a high-concept premise, the film heavily relies on the generic "liar revealed" trope.
  3. Toilet humor is occasional at times.


Rango was given strongly positive reviews. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an 88% approval rating based on 222 reviews, with an average rating of 7.63/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Rango is a smart, giddily creative burst of beautifully animated entertainment, and Johnny Depp gives a colorful vocal performance as a household pet in an unfamiliar world.". Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 75 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale. It is also the highest-rated film produced by Nickelodeon Movies on the site as of 2022 to date.

Richard Corliss of Time applauded the "savvy humor" and called the voice actors "flat-out flawless."He later named it one of the 10 best movies of 2011, saying, "In a strong year for animation ... Rango was the coolest, funniest and dagnab-orneriest of the bunch." Bob Mondello of National Public Radio observed that "Rango's not just a kiddie-flick (though it has enough silly slapstick to qualify as a pretty good one). It's a real movie lover's movie, conceived as a Blazing Saddles-like comic commentary on a genre that's as back-lot savvy as it is light in the saddle." Frank Lovece of Film Journal International, noting the nervous but improvising hero's resemblance to the Don Knotts character in The Shakiest Gun in the West, echoed this, saying that "with healthy doses of Carlos Castaneda, Sergio Leone, Chuck Jones, and Chinatown ... this [is] the kid-movie equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino picture. There's no gory violence or swearing, of course, but there sure is a film buff's parade of great movie moments."

Box office

Rango earned $123,477,607 in North America and $122,246,996 in other countries for a total $245,724,603. It is the 23rd-highest-grossing film of 2011 worldwide.

In North America, Rango debuted in 3,917 theaters, grossing $9,608,091 on its first day and $38,079,323 during its opening weekend, ranking number one at the box office. On March 26, 2011, it became the first film of 2011 to cross the $100 million mark in North America.

In markets outside North America, during its first weekend, it earned $16,770,243 in 33 countries. It topped the international box office two times in March 2011. Although the film did not double its budget, it was declared a success by Paramount which subsequently announced the formation of its own animation department, the high hopes for The Adventures of Tintin, and the departure of DreamWorks Animation upon completion of their distribution contract with Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and Rise of the Guardians in 2012.


At the 84th Academy Awards, Rango won Best Animated Feature, making it not only the first Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies film, but also the first non-Disney or Pixar film to win since 2006's Happy Feet (five years after that), and the last one to win until 2018's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.



  • Instead of recording voice-overs in booths, with every actor isolated from everyone else, most of the voice-over work was recorded on a set, with the actors voicing their characters while performing with their fellow cast members. This enabled the performers to follow the rhythms of their co-stars, while also giving them room for improvisation. The same thing was done for Shark Tale (2004).
  • Unlike many studio animation projects produced since Avatar, Rango was shot in 2D, not 3D, as the budget wouldn't allow for it and Verbinski didn't want to do a "half-assed 3D."
  • The Sacramento, California-based anti-smoking organization Breathe California regards the film a "public health hazard"; it said there were at least 60 instances of smoking in the film (even though Bad Bill was the only character actually shown smoking.)Because of this, some anti-smoking organizations, including Breathe California, petitioned for the film to receive an R rating instead of the original PG rating received by the Motion Picture Association of America. However, no change was made to the smoking scenes and the film maintained its PG rating.
  • It is the first film to use the standard logo for 2009 Nickelodeon from Nickelodeon Movies.
  • Despite being a Nickelodeon film, it initially did not air on the main flagship channel following the controversy, after two years of its original release. However, it did air on a number of non-Viacom-owned TV channels, such as FXM, Cartoon Network, and Discovery Family. Nickelodeon eventually aired the film on January 1, 2018.
  • This is the first Nickelodeon animated film not to use cartoon sound effects, due to having a more realistic theme.
  • "I tip my hat to you, one legend to another." has spawned internet meme.

Nickelodeon Movies
Feature films:

Harriet the Spy - Good Burger - The Rugrats Movie - Snow Day - Rugrats in Paris: The Movie - Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius - Clockstoppers - Hey Arnold!: The Movie - The Wild Thornberrys Movie - Rugrats Go Wild - The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - Mad Hot Ballroom - Yours, Mine & Ours - Nacho Libre - Barnyard - Charlotte's Web - The Spiderwick Chronicles - Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging - Hotel for Dogs - Imagine That - The Last Airbender - Rango - The Adventures of Tintin - Fun Size - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - Monster Trucks - Wonder Park - Dora and the Lost City of Gold - Playing with Fire - The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run - Paw Patrol: The Movie* - Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Chapter - Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie*

Steaming films: The Loud House Movie - The J Team - Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie

*: Unlike previous films from Nickelodeon Movies, PAW Patrol: The Movie and its sequel was produced in Canada, and the film's copyright is owned by Spin Master rather than Paramount. Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies only presented the film internationally, and did not produce it outright.

External Links