After the Fox
Most movie fans know when theyíve seen something special, and thatís why Iím celebrating Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Andersonís first animated film. What a clever, creative, entertaining and glorious movie it is! Taking us to a wonderful world weíve never seen on screen before, Anderson and crew introduce us to quirky characters we canít help caring about -- even when they admit to being wild animals at heart. The movieís stop-motion animation, funny script and perfect voice talent blend together so seamlessly we want to cheer everyone involved in this gem, which turns out to be one of 2009ís best films.
Based on Roald Dahlís book and adapted by Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited) and Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale), Fantastic Mr. Fox tells the tail Ė er tale Ė of an adventurous fox (voiced by George Clooney) who decides to carry out one last gramd theft from the likes of farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean. In the process, he angers his wife (voiced by Meryl Streep) and starts an all-out war between his animal friends and the three Bís. A simple plot indeed, but the imaginative way itís presented here proves that filmmaker Anderson has found his true calling.
In the midst of all the turmoil, Fantastic Mr. Fox also offers an amusing side story involving the rivalry between Mr. Foxís son Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) and his nephew Kristofferson (voiced by Eric Anderson). Tiny Ash wants to be an athlete but is no match for his bigger, more talented cousin, especially when it comes to playing Whackbat, a complicated game thatís all the rage among Mr. Foxís friends. How these two youngsters finally work out their relationship problems is great fun to watch.
Among the other outstanding voice talents are Bill Murray (Badger), Willem Dafoe (Rat), Michael Gambon (Franklin Bean), Wallace Wolodarsky (Kylie), Owen Wilson (Coach Skip) and Wes Anderson himself (Weasel). They all probably had a ball making this movie!
Iíve been a fan of the painstaking stop-motion animation technique ever since seeing Chicken Run. In Fantastic Mr. Fox, itís done even more brilliantly. Also, the production design by Nelson Lowry (art director for Corpse Bride) and cinematography by Tristan Oliver (Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) add to the filmís unique visual beauty. And the excellent original music by Alexandre Desplat (The Golden Compass) enhances the story.
My only worry about Fantastic Mr. Fox relates to the sophisticated nature of the dialogue. I think adults may enjoy this movie more than children. Still, there are cute animals, dogs who love blueberries, and lots of Muppet-like explosions, so maybe thatís enough for the kiddies.
Who will win the battle between the farmers and Mr. Fox & friends? Will Mr. Fox mend his ways and become a responsible family man? Will Mrs. Fox forgive her husband for his dangerous animal instincts? I donít want to give anything away -- but just know that whatever happens will be fantastic.
(Released by 20th Century Fox [!] and rated ďPGĒ for action, smoking and slang humor.)
For more information about Fantastic Mr. Fox, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.