I want to eat this movie.
Before I review Fantastic Mr. Fox, let me give you the background of my relationship with Wes Anderson. I was 17 when Rushmore was released. I saw it six times in the theater, a few of those times by myself. When The Royal Tenenbaums
came out, I took off from my blue-collar job too see the first showing. I saw it four times in the theater. Life Aquatic, twice. Then The Darjeeling Limited
once. This pattern shows my annoyance and disillusionment with Wes
Anderson’s vision. It’s too claustrophobic for me. I can’t take it. I
start lookin’ for the exit mid-way through.
But oh my god, this film. I’m in love again. I started off with my
skeptic-face because of my dying devotion, but once the opening song and sequence unreeled, I was
smiling from ear to ear like Abernathy playing ships mast.
Wes Anderson’s OCD vision sets a new height in stop-motion animation. Unlike Nightmare before Christmas or
Wallace and Gromit, there are angles in the clay. Anderson-esque backgrounds or cluttered studies filled with antique things are bright
and colorful. There’s a Gumby-like quality of the art direction, something we didn’t fully appreciate as kids.
Imagine small underground holes
that are inhabited anthropomorphically by small clothed animals evading scary farmers. Could be a disaster, right? But the
swooping, running, diving camera gives it the total action and feel
of an old bandit film, and actually gave me a few goosebumps.
Mr (George Clooney) & Mrs (Meryl Streep) Fox have a child (Jason Schwartzman) so Mr Fox, formerly a handsome devil of a mischief maker, has been forced to retire his ways. He reverts to type to steal things from evil human farmers (Michael Gambon), and disaster and hilarity ensues with characters such as Badger (Bill Murray), Kylie (Wally Wolodarsky), and Rat (Willem Dafoe).
That’s all I want to give away, and maybe you know the story it’s based on, Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. But I didn’t and was happy that I knew nothing of the plot, because the film is a very full, fat adventure. The film got bogged down towards the end, when, like in all Anderson films, the characters who are snarky or feuding with one another join together to fight for justice. But the sweetness of family, friends, innocence and womanly patience cannot be paralleled by anything out there.
George Clooney’s casting is perfect and all, but the
real star is Eric Anderson, Wes’ brother, who plays Kristian, the
yoga/karate/athlete-perfect cousin who comes and stays with the Foxes
for awhile, generating jealousy from the Foxes short, clumsy, and “different” son, Ash. Take note of all the voices, though, because they really stand on their own, they’re not “famous person voicing silly genie”. I give Wes total credit for this.
I have a feeling that people (i.e. my grandma) will keep saying
it’s “cute”, but it’s so much more than that. The last scene almost brought me to tears even though it was
basically the same moral we all hear about food
industrialism, animals vs. humans and healthy choices in life. I was almost brought to tears because the
characters were so cute.
So you should see this film based on the feel-goodness, the animation,
the camera, the art, the acting and … well, everything. Just go see
Opens today, theaters and showtimes here.