This is really good fun; quirky story, excellent animation, really good voice actors. I felt that the actors would be obvious and over the top as they can sometimes be in animations, (I was worried about Johnny Depp in particular), but they weren’t. Rather than model the characters on the actor, I felt the actors really tried to fit the characters, which is how it should be really.
In addition to the animation being first class, the use of high contrast in the desert, and the use of shadows indoors gave it a very different feeling to most of Pixar/Dreamworks offerings; it felt more gritty and somehow more real. Perhaps this is because Roger Deakins was a visual consultant on the film, and also having ILM do the animation probably helped. The music by Hans Zimmer was pretty cool too. A very enjoyable animated adventure from Gore Verbinski.
It was quite a while ago when I wrote all that (four years in fact), and I stand by it all. I watched with my son (almost three), for the first time, and he like it so much that he wanted to watch it later the same day! Though he did keep asking where the fish was. I really love this film, not your average animation, but I could be biased because I love Westerns so much; all the little reference are obvious to me and I notice more of them with every viewing. But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.