Rango (Johnny Depp), a chameleon who's heretofore spent his life crafting one-man shows and putting on plays in the "set" of a terrarium tank (read: as a pet), crash lands in the desert and wanders haphazardly into the dusty town of Dirt. The town, a rough-and-tumble home to critters of all sorts, is suffering a mighty drought. Rango's desire to fit in and big mouth thrusts him into the role of outsider-cum-lawman. He's soon forced to overcome his doubts and utilize his wits to save his newfound compadres from certain dehydration and the wily bandits that would capitalize on their hardship. Helmed by Gore Verbinski (who's previously worked with Depp on the Pirates
trilogy), the film is beautifully animated and skillfully directed (Think Chinatown
-meets-An American Tail
: Fievel Goes West
. In this self-actualization spaghetti western, rich characterization (great vocal performances from Depp, Bill Nighy and Ned Beatty) and conceptual depth forgive some of the stodgier aspects of the plot, but the sluggish pace and comedic timing holds this charmer back from being an unqualified success.