“Because I’m a wild animal”: ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ Review
Based on the acclaimed book by iconic author Roald Dahl and brought to cinematic life by American wunderkind Wes Anderson, Fantastic Mr. Fox is an animated delight and a clever ride for both adults and kids.
The story concerns a charming fox (voiced to perfection by George Clooney) who steals from a group of farmers but dangers his entire family and friends once the farmers try to take their revenge on him. Anderson briefly used stop motion animation for the underwater sequences of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou but Fantastic Mr. Fox has Wes Anderson fully taking advantage and embracing stop-motion animation, and the result couldn’t be more spectacular. While ostensibly a heist film, much like his very own first film Bottle Rocket, Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is also a colorful and vibrant look at family relationships, growing up and how a community can band together to overcome danger and achieve one thing that they set their mind to.
A lot of Fantastic Mr. Fox’s charm lies in its beautiful and tactile animation. While stop motion is a ridiculously complex and visual delight in all films, there’s something about Anderson’s style that perfectly complements the animation. Whether it’s the symmetrical style, the family banter that Anderson is so great at or just the overall attention to detail (Anderson had the whole cast record their scenes, not in a studio but particular areas, like outside in a forest or a stable), Fantastic Mr. Fox represents a major milestone in the career of the accomplished director. While Clooney is the pitch perfect choice to represent the super cool creation of Mr. Fox, the entire cast does an excellent job of voicing Roald Dahl characters filtered through an Anderson edge.
One of the best aspects of the film is just watching the beautiful character design filtered through gorgeous backgrounds, miniatures (I mean visually the film is spectacular as it looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before) and lush production design. Speaking of voicing, some of the many highlights of the film include the witty and hilarious squabbling between characters – one of the best recurring bits is the whole “cussing” scene which is an incredibly clever way of avoiding a PG-13 rating while still having fun with the idea of talking animals swearing in an animated film with a PG rating.
Aside from Clooney and Meryl Streep who adapt themselves extraordinarily well to Anderson’s style, other Anderson regulars like Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe and Owen Wilson all deliver hilariously charming voice work. Much like the best type of animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox is just as entertaining and clever for kids as it is for adults. Aside from the cute animation and style, Anderson adds a lot of heart and dramatic weight from his best storytelling into Mr. Fox – a story about a father who wants the best for his family and his community and is willing to do anything to protect them to keep them from harm’s way. Not to mention the whole film is set to the tune of classic 1960s rock accompanied by the wonderful melodies of Alexandre Desplat. If you’ve never had a chance to catch Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox you owe it to yourself to do so; even more so if you’re a fan of stop motion animation.