There are kids’ movies and there are grown-up movies, and then there are movies that give a wink and a nudge to both. Pixar is a genius at executing this balancing act, consistently turning out films that can send kids into fits of laughter and be translated easily into a video game while still creating complex, wrenching emotion or slyly including an innuendo or two. It’s not easy, but when it’s done right, it’s a work of art. This is, happily, the category where “Rango” — incidentally, a Nickelodeon movie, not Pixar — finds itself: with its boots firmly planted in two territories. Johnny Depp provides the voice for Rango, a lizard who’s accidentally jettisoned from his aquarium home and winds up in the parched, ramshackle desert town of Dirt. Populated by the motliest critters this side of Nikki Sixx, Dirt has an economy and culture that’s based on its most precious resource: water. What’s more, the water seems to be vanishing, leaving an opening for a hero that the starry-eyed newcomer is all too eager to fill. There’s plenty here for kids. Goofy desert varmints (though they’re designed with a finesse and attention to detail that surpasses the vast majority of CGI films) and physical comedy that borders on the grotesque make this PG-rated movie a decent family option. (Be warned: Jake the Snake is the most terrifying animated villain since the Night Fury in “How to Train Your Dragon”.) But the most delicious parts are the nods to adults, like the much-heralded “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” motif. (Rango’s design was based on the iconic, distorted “Fear and Loathing” poster, and there’s even a cameo of Depp’s Hunter S. Thompson character.) Or a brief homage to battle scenes in “Star Wars”, or hints of classic Westerns. Even the sad-eyed chorus of desert owls who narrate the scenes is swiped from ancient Greek dramas. “Rango” is jam-packed with references, which keep the interest moving even as the story wanes. It’s true that the story is far from inspired: Each of the characters, from the spirited rancher’s daughter to the sinister mayor who keeps a stash of bottled water in his desk drawer, is exactly who they seem to be, and the vast conspiracy at the heart of the town’s water problem is as obvious as the high-noon sun. (The ’74 Roman Polanski film “Chinatown” might ring some bells.) Still, a truly phenomenal animation job, spectacularly creative character design, fast wit and an even faster pop-culture awareness keeps “Rango” above water. This is the kind of movie you hope your kids want to see — hell, you might even feel like leaving them home and going yourself.