Director Gore Verbinski finally got a shot at making something that doesn’t involve pirates, the ocean or, for that matter, real people. With the film “Rango,” Verbinski tells the tale of the comical lizard who calls himself Rango, voiced by Johnny Depp.

The film begins with a lizard without a name who lives in a tank by himself. After an accident, the lizard becomes stranded in the desert and is directed by an armadillo to a town called Dirt that is drying up from lack of water. There, he meets Beans (Isla Fisher), a lizard who is trying to save her father’s ranch, which is part of the slowly dying town.

When asked what his name is, the lizard, deciding he can be anyone he wants to be, calls himself Rango. The mayor (Ned Beatty), an old turtle, makes Rango the sheriff after he unwittingly defeats the hawk that had been terrorizing the town. It becomes Rango’s job to save the town from not only the drought, but a conspiracy that lies beneath the surface of Dirt.

The animation of “Rango” is state of the art but not so realistic that it loses its animation feel. It makes the world come alive for the audience. Not only are the characters beautifully animated, but the settings are, as well. One can’t help but get caught up in the world of “Rango.”

Johnny Depp gives a stellar performance as the voice of Rango without even appearing on the screen. It takes talent to act, but voice acting takes a different talent, one that Depp manages well. He brings Rango’s character to very comical, yet heroic and lovable, levels.

Fisher and Alfred Molina (the voice of the armadillo) both support Depp with strong performances, as well. Ned Beatty, though he was used as an animated film villain in “Toy Story 3” already in the past year, still gives a worthy performance.

“Rango” delivers on many levels, most notably on the humor. While some parts of the film are borderline adult humor, it still provides a good experience for kids, which gives it a broad audience that isn’t limited to just children. The film also gives many tips of the hat to the Western genre and its classic stereotypes. “The Spirit of the West” (Timothy Olyphant) wears a poncho, a baron hat, squints and talks with a raspy “man with no name”-like voice.

“Rango” breaks the mold of the standard animated film and strives to do many things, most of which are successful. The film is funny, has a great story with great performances, the animation and effects are state of the art and overall, it’s just a good movie. The fact that it avoids the cliché of most animated movies while embracing the clichés of the Western film make it a great experience at the theater.