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by on July 12, 2011
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I can’t think of a movie I had more fun at so far in 2011 than “Rango,” a loopy, occasionally psychedelic animated flick starring Johnny Depp as a bug-eyed lizard. A domesticated pet who lives in a terrarium and invents companions and theatrical productions to amuse himself, he’s literally a chameleon, and not just when it comes to the shade of his pebbly skin.

He ends up lost in the Mojave and stumbles into the town of Dirt, populated by every manner of desert critter imaginable. Things are tough in Dirt — there’s a gang of tunneling thieves waiting on the edge of town, a local crime boss looking for newcomers to squish and the rumor of a slithery gunslinger named Rattlesnake Jake heading back their way.

Through a combination of wild circumstance and his own even more far-fetched boasting, the lizard finds himself appointed sheriff of Dirt, dubbing himself Rango to better suit his new role. Of course, there are all those aforementioned troubles that he’s now expected to tackle.

Although kids will surely enjoy it, “Rango” is really a cartoon for adults, stuffed with highbrow humor and sly pop-culture references.

Please note, “Rango” hits video outlets on Friday, July 15.

Video features are quite impressive, and you don’t have to spring for the top-of-the-line edition to get good stuff.

The DVD version includes both the theatrical version of “Rango” plus an extended cut. To accompany both versions is a feature-length commentary track by director Gore Verbinski and several of his key crew members. There’s also a collection of 10 deleted scenes, including an alternate ending, and an educational short about desert animals.

Opt for the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and you add a number of other goodies, including a digital copy of the film. There’s also a virtual tour of Dirt, a doc about this first foray into feature-length animation by Industrial Light & Magic, and a picture-in-picture feature where you can watch the movie in storyboard form.

Film: 4.5 Yaps
Extras: 4.5 Yaps