By Sam Struckhoff
PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Rango” (PG) — One of the wonderful things to take shape since the rise of computer-animated kids movies is the notion that adults often must sit through and appear to enjoy the show as well. “Rango” takes control of this idea in an interesting way. Not many kids movies work in references to “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” or “Chinatown.”
“Rango” tells the story of a neurotic pet chameleon dropped into the Wild West. Johnny Depp does a good job giving voice to the scrawny green hero, and actually gives some depth to the lizard’s shaky bravado. In fact, all of the characters look and sound interesting — something I didn’t think possible considering the steady cascade of talking CG animals that’s been coming out of Hollywood year after year. The action, visuals, jokes and scruffy little animals rank high among what the genre has to offer.
Like the little town housing the characters, the whole movie seems crafted out of little pieces of other, more recognizable efforts. This also might be the movie’s largest drawback. While grownups can appreciate the little homages, many of Rango’s quips could go right over the heads of younger viewers. The movie’s attention to detail makes for a well-crafted animated adventure that nobody is too big to enjoy.
“Arthur” (PG-13) — This remake of the 1981 bumbling-drunk comedy of the same name just doesn’t have the same kick. The story brings back Arthur Bach, a billionaire playboy manchild who receives an ultimatum: settle down and get married or say goodbye to the money.
The idea was to create a vehicle for Russell Brand, a capable English comedian who just can’t seem to fit into the whole leading-man role. Not that he can’t play a pithy party-animal Englishman — you may remember him playing such a role in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him to the Greek” — but Brand’s quips and comedy-mugs can’t hold up for a whole movie.
There may be a few giggles here and there, if only from errant pieces of Brand’s charm slipping out of the sanitary container of the movie. If you’re interested in the comedic stylings of Russell Brand, there are better examples elsewhere. Likewise, anyone who likes witty inebriated Brits named Arthur can find a better specimen, one from 30 years ago.
“Brazil” (R) [Blu-ray] — This 1985 absurdist science-fiction film is one of those movies the creator fought for, and watching it shows why. Set in a dismal future ruled by heartless bureaucracy and inefficiency, a government worker starts to see through the elaborate mess of the world around him.
Directed by Terry Gilliam, the movie shows a world so dystopian and ridiculous, it’s George Orwell as read by Monty Python. “Brazil” is easily a Blu-ray worthy movie; you wouldn’t want to miss how the pointless complexity and overbearing absurdity of future society is shown through carefully placed visual nuances.
“Entourage” The Complete Seventh Season
“Damages” The Complete Third Season
“ER” Season 15 (The Final Season)
“Robot Chicken: Star Wars III”
“Sgt. Frog” Season Three, Part One
© 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.