“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is signed, sealed, delivered from the fantastic Mr Wes Anderson. Based on the children’s book of the same name by Roald Dahl, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is about a domesticated fox who can’t quite resist the temptation to thieve chickens, leading to a community feud with the three worst famers in the neighborhood.
Why you’ll like it:
It’s Wes Anderson style humor and filming techniques, but in stop-motion.
If you’re familiar with any of Wes Anderson’s work, such as “The Darjeeling Limited”, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” or “The Royal Tenenbaums” to name a few, then you’re aware of the very quirky sensibilities that comes with his characters, and man oh man does this feel like a Wes Anderson film through and through….but in stop-motion. The sheer amount of detail that was packed into each frame is astounding, yet it made complete sense that someone with Wes Anderson’s imagination would produce something so minute and specific when the only limit placed on you is what you can think up. Perhaps I’m simply tired of Tim Burton’s animation, but I have to say that “Fox” was executed with far more precision than anything Burton has done to date.
The first thing that really caught my attention was the cross between animals being people-ish yet retaining their animalism for the sake of comedy. At the breakfast table Mr Fox sits down to a sophisticated breakfast while speaking poignantly about his newspaper article that no one probably reads, then mauls his food as if it weren’t dead yet (I think it was French toast), bam, comedic gold. Every character has their own nuances but it’s all delivered with the same dead-pan humor that is wickedly amusing if not laugh out loud funny.
What struck me most perhaps is the variety of shots used. This isn’t the old trick of “let’s build one really great set-piece and abuse it”, it’s capturing a scene with the mentality of a regular feature film to build tension or a visual gag. Silly cutaways and diagramming ridiculous faux sporting games. Not to mention the supporting cast is filled to the brim with excellence. Jason Schwartzman plays the overlooked son, his childish jealousy over his visiting cousin weaves a great moral into the storyline for family audiences.
Why you won’t like it:
None of the humor is delivered with a drum roll, it’s often awkward and senseless and very simple.
I’m aware that many mainstream people are wholly unfamiliar with Wes Anderson, but hopefully this will change that, because for the first time I won’t have a problem recommending this to someone that wouldn’t get “Rushmore”, they’ll love it for the ridiculous situations and witty character abnormalities. Seeing this makes me only hope that we’ll see another Wes Anderson animation in some fashion, the man-child approach is brilliant and works no matter the format. You should see this.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
by Wes Hemings
Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray
Director: Wes Anderson
Genre: Animation, Comedy
Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.
Release Date: November 25, 2009