I’m a huge Johnny Depp fan so when the movie Rango came out, you just know I had to go watch it. Even though, as my hubby claimed, “It’s just the voice you’re going to go see.”

My sister saw it before me. Upon her advice, hubby and I decided not to take the boys with us. Later, as I was watching it, I found I was really glad the boys stayed home. I would suggest you do the same unless,

a. you’re ready to answer some awkward questions, or;

b. you think your child won’t pick up on some of the jokes.

For example, there was a scene where Rango, the main character, had to explain how he could claim to be brothers with a snake. His explanation: “My mother had a very active social life.” Or something to that effect.

I sure knew I wasn’t ready to have to explain what that meant to my 10-year-old.

Anyway, Rango covered a simple plot: an unlikely hero walks into an unexpected and impossible situation. He figures things out pretty quickly: there was no way he could survive just by being himself. Flight was also impossible. So he does the only thing he could do: he lies.

The events that followed his choice tested his mettle. And he was found lacking. So he gave up. But as he walked away, another impossible situation opened up. This time, however, the odds were in his favor. So he made another choice. And that choice finally accomplished what his earlier life of ease failed to do: turn him into a real hero.

So, did I like the movie? Yes, yes, I did. And like a good Baptist, I’ve three reasons why.

Reason 1

The main character, Rango, walked into a story that was not of his making. He was a performer in a literal fishbowl who made stories come alive for himself and his non-alive (for want of a better word) friends. Suddenly, he was thrust into reality with a bang (more like a bump) and was forced to cope the only way he knew how: he invented a name and a character. And that was all he really was until an encounter with the spirit of the west (who looked amazingly like Clint Eastwood) helped him choose to perform the deeds that eventually made the character real.

Just between you and me, I too walk around with names I’ve made up, and stories to back those up. It sounds kinda sad, but look at it this way: If I choose good names, then force myself to act according to those names, shouldn’t I end up a better person in the end? If I see myself as a hero, and live like I am, maybe one day I really will be a hero.

Reason 2

Rango had to accept that his life wasn’t all just about him. He wasn’t the most important person in the picture. But he had to make a most important choice.

I think a lot about myself, what I like and dislike, what I want and need. Often, those thoughts eclipse the story, and suddenly plot lines are convoluted and scenes don’t make sense.

With a wrench, I force myself to accept that it’s not about me. It’s about the story and what I’m going to choose to do in a scene I’m in. The grand finale will be shaped by the choices and decisions I am making right now. So I keep that ending scene in mind and make sure I build around it.

Reason 3

At the end, the lead bad guy claimed that legends are fading away. They belonged in the past. The snake, the impossible-to-defeat-foe, then realizes he has one thing in common with Rango, the easy-to-beat-hero. They are both legends, albeit on opposite sides of the fence. Still, that was cause for some respect.

This resonated with me. I feel like Noah’s ark in most cases–old-fashioned, unneeded, cast away in light of speedier forms of transportation.

More, my values refuse to keep up with the changing times. See, I’ve chosen not to discard them just because they are no longer in style. Solid principles and a cause to stand for–if I recognize these in a person (and it don’t matter if I agree with them) I form a grudging respect for him or her.

So, I’m pretty sure Rango isn’t a movie for kids. But it’s a good movie if you need a wake up call. That glass bubble you live in could burst at any minute, and you could be called on for the performance of your life. What are you going to do then? You’re going to have to figure that out. After all, it’s true. Nobody walks out on their own story.

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