Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2011. Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies, Blind Wink Productions, GK Films. Story by John Logan, Gore Verbinski, James Ward Byrkit, Screenplay by John Logan. Produced by John B. Carls, Graham King, Gore Verbinski. Music by Hans Zimmer. Production Design by Mark ‘Crash’ McCreery. Film Editing by Craig Wood. Academy Awards 2011. Golden Globe Awards 2011. National Board of Review Awards 2011. Washington Film Critics Awards 2011.
Did you ever wonder what all those scaly critters were doing during westerns while John Wayne was duking it out against the bad guys? Apparently having a showdown of their own! At least that’s what we learn after a pet lizard (voiced irresistibly by Johnny Depp) accidentally falls out of his owner’s car on the highway, smashes his cozy terrarium, and walks through the blistering heat into a dusty town populated by all manner of desert creatures. Something of a dreamer, he invents a persona for himself as a powerful hero, and it is put to the test when a few bad guys start coming the town’s way and he is expected to fight them off. As always there is a quest, a mystery and a girl, and this snappy computer-animated film does a terrific job of balancing all aspects of the story, keeps the tone of humour consistent and brings out all the fun that the characters and their situations have to offer. It’s a delightful treat that pays tribute to classic westerns without getting obnoxiously cute about it, and Depp’s almost unrecognizable vocal tones add a terrific flavor to the fun.