A bit of a disappointment. So this is a story about a travelling musician that accidentally kills a big bad outlaw. Locals want him to be their next hero lawman, and it’s not long before he gets promoted to sheriff and starts being groomed to be a legend. Even though this little film has no reputation, it was something that I was excited for. Two of my very favorite genres out there are the Western and the Animated feature, and they are two genres that seldom see any crossover, so when it happens, I go out of my way to seek it out. For me, this is kind of a letdown, even though I do recognize that I may have had unrealistic expectations going in.
It really looks like Rango is always going to continue to be the definitive animated Western. It’s imaginative, colorful and a real treat to watch. While I certainly appreciate what they’re doing with Toonstone, I don’t think it succeeds on the whole. This is clearly made by people who harbor an adoration for Unforgiven and the Dollars trilogy, which is something I can support and get behind. However, this is entirely parody, and there are not well written jokes to accompany it. For example, they recreate the classic coffin scene from A Fistful of Dollars. What’s the big joke? The coffin maker perpetually interrupting the scene, trying to upsell on his product. The joke from the original film had a far better punchline, never mind payoff. The jokes don’t ever really land (instead of El Dorado, there’s a town named Dildorado), and most of it reeks of poor improvisation. So much of this feels like it was made by the creators of Aqua Teen Hunger Force if they ran out of marijuana, which makes it wear out its welcome in its short 81-minute runtime.
There is definitely a part of me that does at least appreciate this on a base level, but I was never able to form a tangible connection with it. I like the idea of the unwitting hero, but these characters come off as pretty annoying from the very start. For example, there’s a talking horse in here that goes by McConaughorse. Why? Just so they could have somebody do a Matthew McConaughey impression. It hits all the Western tropes, and I like all the Eastwood references. It moves quickly enough, and this really is tailor-made for me on paper, but unfortunately it did not hit home in execution.
Toonstone (2015) **1/2
– Critic for Hire