Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox

And so it begins. Ahh Wes Anderson with his centered photography, snappy editing, playful soundtrack and immense attention to detail. Like other directors born from the ‘90s school of Tarantino, Anderson’s films have an instant recognizable look. You know what you are watching right away. Sometimes it’s gimmicky (The Life Aquatic, yawn) but most times it plays out flawlessly (Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums).

Put Fantastic Mr. Fox right at the top of Anderson’s best. In the PG-rated, stop-motion animated film, we follow a family of foxes (voiced to perfection by George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Jason Schwartzman) as Mr. Fox throws out his life of crime to become a newspaperman, only to be tempted back into the dark world of chicken stealing.

Now, anyone who reads this blog, or knows anything about my personal movie tastes, knows that I am not a fan of animated films. Wall-E and Up were good, sure, as is the South Park film, but for the most part I leave the genre to the kids. So, it comes with great surprise that Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the single best movie going experiences I’ve had this year. When I wasn’t smiling like a dumb fool, I was genuinely laughing my ass off. As with all of Anderson’s movies, the humor is never obvious. It’s in the pauses, the subtle glances, the repetition, and so on. This film is no different. The characters here are so well defined that you actually care about them. Seriously.

Getting into plot points isn’t really important because Fantastic Mr. Fox is about the experience. It’s a well-executed exercise in animated filmmaking. And for my money, it will give Up some strong competition for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

I want to point out a few interesting facts about this film. Notice the parallels to Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. Both by young, accomplished directors. Both PG, although not for kids. Both based on animated novels. Thing is, Fantastic Mr. Fox actually has a clear vision, something Where the Wild Things Are lacked. Another piece of trivia: the actors lending their voices for this film did not record in a booth. They recorded their dialogue at locations similar to where the scene took place. Forrests, attics, stables, etc. That’s interesting.

Forget best animated film of the year, Fantastic Mr. Fox is not only one of the best films of the year, but it’s one of the best that Anderson has made. It’s true, Fantastic Mr. Fox really is nothing short of fantastic. A


  1. Are you cussing with me?

    I don't think it'll win best animated but I sure as shit hope it does.

  2. This is such a cluster cuss.

    The first 20 minutes of 'Up' were remarkable, the rest just felt like a typical animated movie. But yeah, it'll prob win.

  3. Isn't it strange that 2 defining filmmakers of our generation both made movies adapted from children's books. im wayyy more excited for this than i was for where the wild things are, i can't wait.

  4. I searched for something completely different, but found your website! And have to say thanks. Nice read. Will come back.

  5. @Anonymous, thanks so much for your kind words. Glad to have you here.

  6. In the same way that Life Aquatic didn't work for, this one failed for me (and I really liked Life Aquatic). I think I was too distracted by the familiar voices to get into the animation enough. Much less prominent actors could have done the voice work, and we'd have lost little to nothing. I don't think I even managed to finish watching.

    1. I would never give this an A now. Maybe B+, B. That's interesting to hear about your aversion to the spot-onness of the actors' voices. I've only seen this once, but I wonder if that'd bother me if I watched it now.