Fantastic Mr. Fox * * * * 1/2

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Director: Wes Anderson.
Screenplay: Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach.
Voices of: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Helen McCrory, Brian Cox, Garth Jennings, Roman Coppola, Wes Anderson, Jarvis Cocker, Adrien Brody.

Director Wes Anderson’s quirky indie humour and off-beat dysfunctional characters have been very appealing to me over the years. Upon the news that he was adapting a classic children’s novel, using animation, I thought he might have been going a little too far outside his comfort zone and wondered if his idiosyncratic style would actually transfer to a different medium. Thankfully, my curiosity was put to ease as this did not dissapoint.

Based on Roald Dahl’s story about a sly and egocentric fox that always strives for better things for himself and his family, while seemingly oblivious to the dangers his quest for status brings to his family. He sets out to rob the three local farmers Boggis, Bunce & Bean of their possesions and attracts a lot of unwanted attention for everyone in the process.

Anyone familiar with Anderson’s idiosyncratic style will know that, despite this being animation, his approach hasn’t changed at all. It still possesses his wit and charm in abundance. The stop-motion animation takes a little getting used to but once you’ve attuned yourself to it, there’s no let up in the pace of, not just, Anderson’s visuals but also the characterisation and his daring in not being constrained by the medium itself. His eclectic use of music and screen captions are also present, making this every inch a Wes Anderson adventure. Credit must also go the voice cast; each and every single one of them inhabit their characters and deliver the sharp and intelligent dialogue to perfection, bringing the little stop-motion animals to life. These little creatures have more zest and life than most live-action movie characters are ever afforded and they add to another odd collection of dysfunctional family members that seem to be Anderson’s forte and feature regularly in his oeuvre.
For many, this is actually their favourite Anderson film. Personally, mine still sits with “The Darjeeling Limited” but this is certainly one of his finest, eccentric and most unique moments.

Not only does this foray into animation not disappoint, it actually thoroughly impresses. This is how it should be done. A subversive, cerebral treat for adults and children alike. “Fantastic” indeed.

Mark Walker

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32 Responses to “Fantastic Mr. Fox * * * * 1/2”

  1. This was, believe it or not, the first Anderson film I saw.. I loved it. I then went on to the rest although I havent seen your fave… I must try and get around to that!!

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    • A great film Scott. I’ve seen it several times and always intended to post a review but never got around to it. After watching it again on tv last night, I thought it was about time. You should check out Darjeeling. That film really hit the spot for me.

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  2. This is a brilliantly funny picture. I absolutely love it. Nice review.

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  3. Wow, always brushed this off as a kid’s flick but might have to check it out.

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  4. Still my favorite Wes Anderson film, my kids, too. We try to watch this as a family during each Thanksgiving. Excellent review, Mark.

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    • Thanks Michael. I can’t see past The Darjeeling Ltd as my favourite of Anderson’s but this is still something special. It’s just a pure delight and I can see why you’d share this with your family regularly.

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  5. Great work as always! I have nothing against Anderson whatsoever but to me, it seems his movies are either going to really move you or they won’t do it for you. As in – personally, Bottle Rocket is one of my favorite movies and, even though he’s excelling in making his movies now, they just don’t do it for me like Bottle Rocket…

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    • I hear you bro. Everyone’s opinion of Anderson differs. Even those that like him tend to disagree on what’s his best film. I like them all, I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet and he’s become one of my favourite directors. This is one of his top three though.

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  6. Yay, looks like we’re in agreement on this one, Mark! Thoroughly impressive is right, I enjoyed it quite a bit, perhaps the most fun Wes Anderson movies I’ve seen so far, even slightly more than Moonrise Kingdom. I still need to check out Rushmore, I quite like Bill Murray and he’s a staple in Wes’ movies 🙂

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    • Always glad to be in agreement Ruth. 😉 Any director that is wise enough to use Murray as a staple, is in my cool book. Yeah, check out Rushmore it’s a great film. In fact, check out all of Anderson’s stuff, they’re all great.

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      • Ahah, so true! I also want to check out the Steve Zizou one as it’s got Cate Blanchett in it too. I adore her!

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      • I really liked Zizou but i’d probably say it’s the hardest of Anderson’s to get into due to it being just a tad too off-beat. Still, it’s a great film and like you, I think Blanchett is superb as well.

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  7. What I liked most about this was that it wasn’t your normal kids flick and also gave Anderson a lot of free-will to just play around this world as much as he wanted. Not his best, but a very impressive and fun film overall. Good review Mark.

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  8. It is a great movie. I love it. The animation is fantastic, and We Anderson’s sensibilities are perfectly suited for the material.

    My favorite is still “Rushmore” though. 😀

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    • Everyone seems to have a favourite of his though don’t they? I loved this but The Darjeeling Limited is my choice. It’s easy to see why people differ on a favourite though. All of his films are great and even though similar in structure, possess something different. Cheers Fogs!

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  9. I enjoyed this but didn’t love it. I thought it was a little slow at times? But I’m usually hit or miss when it comes to Anderson.

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    • I understand that Anderson isn’t to everyone’s taste but I’m a big fan and I think he does a great job here Misty. I’m a bit of a sucker for eccentric, off-beat stuff.

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      • I’m a sucker for eccentric, off-beat too. 🙂 Just sometimes his stuff seems very slow, like slow burn and I guess I just don’t have the patience, lol. Overall I like him just am more a fan of the earlier stuff. Think I’m going to love Moonrise Kingdom though. 🙂

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      • Yeah, Moonrise Kingdom is the only one I’ve not seen yet. I missed it at the cinema but I’m expecting good things. Good things indeed. 🙂

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  10. There’s something about Wes Anderson’s films that just leave me cold. I haven’t seen this one yet, but I reckon it’s probably the one most likely to change me mind. Nice one dude.

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  11. I too thought this was a stellar film. I need to give it another go sometime soon. I think my favorite Anderson film is Moonrise Kingdom, but this would be top 3, I think.

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  12. Great review, Mark. This is indeed a fantastic film! It came in a year that also gave us Coraline and Up. Wow. A great year for animation.

    I agree that Wes Anderson’s style wasn’t lost at all here, and the voice work was commendable. Darjeeling is my favorite Wes Anderson film as well. But this one is very close behind!

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