Rango (Johnny Depp) fell off the wagon, that's not to say he is an alcoholic, I mean he literally fell out of a station wagon and has become the newest resident of I-15. He bumbles into the saloon in Dirt, a small town located precisely in the middle of nowhere. Rango is out of his element in the desert, he's a pet used to living in a cage, he will have to find some shelter quickly if he wants to survive.
Fortunately, Rango comes a small town called Dirt. Not a lot happens in Dirt, the big happening when Rango arrives is a discussion about the upcoming delivery of water. The discussion turns to the new stranger in town and he brushes some black hats the wrong way.
After being thrown out of the bar, through sheer luck and happenstance Rango encounters the hawk preying on the town. After making short work of the predator, Rango is named Sheriff. Rango is a natural actor so taking the part of lawman comes easy to him. He likes the attention, the people like his stories, what could go wrong?
Well, for starters, the water shipment goes missing, partly due to Rango's "eagle eye". The townfolk were waiting for the water to come, but something fishy has been going on with delivery of the supply and now the water doesn't come. Now, with the drought killing every bit of land and the people going thirsty, Rango has to prove his mettle.
Rango features several mainstays of the genre: the outsider looking to break his way into town, the corrupt mayor - Ned Beatty please get work other than villain parts - and the parched and hopeless citizens of a small town.
Gore Verbinski has done something no one really imagined possible, making a mainstream financially successful Western. By presenting Rango under the guise of a kids' movie, the filmgoing public responded.
Westerns in general are drying up - much like the water in Dirt. If it takes dressing them up as children's films to get them into theatres, that's fine. There are countless references to classics of yorn strewn throughout the film (the most fun being a cameo featuring Timothy Olyphant that I will not spoil), including others like Johnny Depp's own Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Depp has a lot of fun with his role as Rango, and you will have just as much watching.