A blog about movies and filmmaking.

If what I think is happening is happening, it better not be

In Animation on November 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm

That’s one of my favorite lines from the new movie from Writer/Director Wes Anderson, FANTASTIC MR. FOX, based on the story by Roald Dahl. A, well, fantastic effort on just about every level. This is probably my new favorite movie of Anderson’s, the story deftly holds on to it’s origins of being from the mind of Roald Dahl, and most importantly, it’s just pretty cussing cute! With a voice cast featuring the likes of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, and lots more (including Mario Batali!!)

I’ve long felt that Anderson’s movies, while all fun in their own right, were essentially little boy exercises in playing. Whether it’s BOTTLE ROCKET, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, or even the closest in what I mean, represented in RUSHMORE. The stories are all about men being immature, idiosyncratic and rebels for their own causes; which is basically what little boys play at, when playing cowboys and indians, GI Joes, or any other backyard activity. We’re the cleverest, most-invulnerable creatures in the world – especially if we have an audience of in awe friends and younger siblings. And FANTASTIC MR. FOX, fits in with these ideals, but also presents a new maturity.

Mr. Fox starts off the movie as the best chicken hunter of the forest, and when he and his wife – Mrs. Fox – get caught in a steel trap, she reveals she’s pregnant and that Mr. Fox has to stop being risky and get a real job. We then cut to two years later (or 12 fox years), where Mr. Fox writes a column for the local newspaper – which no one reads – and he starts to feel an itch. First it is scratched in the form of needing a better home. Instead of the hole in the ground that he and his wife, and their adolescent son Ash (voiced by RUSHMORE’s Jason Schwartzman) to a large tree where you can see the entire valley. Then comes the further plotting of pulling one last big job, in three phases. This job is to break into each of the three local farmers barns, cellars and freezers, and steal their wares.

How this movie differs and is more mature, in my view, from Anderson’s previous movies is that we get an acknowledgment that these characters are in-fact not mature adults, because well, they’re wild animals. It’s a strange thing, but in that revelation, it brings these anthropomorphized animals into the realm of the adult. Grown ups enjoy playing cowboys and indians, GI Joe’s and whatever else. We just tend to do it either more lethally – through actual wars – or find a way of rebelling on our own, but can’t admit that yes, we are still kids inside. And in some part, wild animals of our own kind.

The movie is animated with stop-motion puppets. A little more in the vein of the Rankin-Bass Christmas cartoons from long-ago, than the smoother animation of the Henry Selick, CORALINE, crowd. We see the fur on the animals move in strange ways that is the effect of moving the puppets and taking separate, single-frame photos of them. And it does take a little getting used to, but the way the movie starts by throwing us straight in to the style of the movie – plotting out the Foxes breaking into a farm to nab some squabs (pigeon-like birds).

The style of the movie is the extreme to which Anderson has become known for, with the elaborate plans, funny costumes, and dancing (don’t you remember the Steve Zissou dance sequence?). I also kind of feel like the humor works here a little better than in Anderson’s other movies. Maybe it’s another side of the immaturity in his stories, but sometimes it’s hard to accept living people doing some of the things that they do in say THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS. But, here seeing a fox explain to us that beagles love blueberries, or the fun ways that the animals smile at each other by baring their teeth, all adds some great humor.

The voice acting is all fantastic, from the people I listed above to the not headlining names, but still great coups to have in this little movie; like Michael Gambon, Brian Cox, Jarvis Cocker, and Willem Dafoe (probably one of the greatest characters/acting performances of the movie).

It’s a great movie, and I hope that it enjoys lots of success in the beginning of this 2009 holiday season.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Muth, John Muth. John Muth said: Hey it's my review on that cussing adorable, Fantastic Mr. Fox: http://wp.me/ps9nC-5b My new favorite We Anderson movie. […]

  2. in fact my freind i liked that article you just write here and the concidance is that any one have comment on it i think you are like Mr fantastic you should turnin wild instead of writind those damn articles LOl just kiddin’ but we have a commun point i like these movie too 😀

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