Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
|Featuring:||voices of George Clooney (as Mr. Fox), Meryl Streep (Mrs. Fox), Owen Wilson (Coach Skip), Willem Dafoe (Rat), Bill Murray (Badger), Jason Schwartzman, Michael Gambon, Brian Cox, Adrien Brody, more »|
|Producer:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, Indian Paintbrush, more »|
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation|
“based on the book by Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
There’s nothing like a stop-motion film to get you in the mood for the holidays, and Wes Anderson’s first animated film, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” surely won’t let down the Black Friday and Thanksgiving shoppers flocking to malls and stores across America. Is it a classic? Certainly not, but it is, at the least, memorable.
The story behind those orange whiskers characterized by none-other than Mr. Suave himself, George Clooney, is a simple one. Mr. Fox (Clooney) is a proud “man.” Proud of his accomplishments, proud of his wit, and proud of his ability to “fox” his way out of anything. Although sworn by a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) to give up his notorious life of stealing birds for a living, Mr. Fox has always known he’s had the right stuff to out-smart any chicken or turkey farmer.
The story encompasses Mr. Fox’s battle with three farmers, Mr. Boggis, Bunce and Bean, that live near his new home in an oak tree, who are dark, evil men bent on getting rid of Mr. Fox (and all the other woodland creatures that live around him), who steals their chickens, ducks, turkeys and apple cider and seemingly out-smarts them at every turn. Of course, one would expect a simple story considering the entire 90+ minute film is based on the 96 page classic children’s book of the same title by Roald Dahl.
Wes Anderson stays true to his unique style of direction and cinematography. Fun and playful horizontal and vertical panning shots, along with long sequences and strict camera movement add to the overall enjoyment and pleasure of the experience. The characters voiced by talents such as Clooney and Streep, as well as Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Eric Anderson, and Jason Schwartzman, are also incredibly well done and truly drive the dry-humored, simple minded script. Clooney’s ability to draw laughs out of the audience with his quick sharp wit and trademark “whistle-mouth smack-wink” he does after out-foxing anyone makes the entire endeavor worth-while.
Children, however, may not enjoy this animated adventure as much as their parents. The stop action footage might not catch their eyes in the manner the digital animation does, and the dialogue will, for the most part, soar over their heads. The array of various fall colors and movement of the uniquely crafted character models should fascinate and dazzle them, but the plot and sarcastic exchanges between Mr. Fox and his cohorts will benefit strictly the older audience members.
Parents may raise a few questions with younger movie-goers. Although there’s no language, the word “cuss” is inserted for any actual swear word, staying true to the actual dialogue in the book, using it as a universal euphemism. For example, characters will say “What the cuss?” or “Are you cussin’ with me”—a clever way, certainly, to avoid the language while still implicitly stating it.
There’s, also, numerous alcohol references, all directed towards Mr. Bean’s apple cider, which is portrayed as “alcoholic.” In addition to that, there are scenes where the woodland critters are shot at and another where one farmer practically destroys an entire trailer in a fit of rage. There are also two scenes where Mrs. Fox relays to Mr. Fox that she is, indeed, pregnant.
While the story may be simple on the surface, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” deals with many more complex issues, particularly the issues of pride and raising one’s child not only in the right way, but in a way that helps them succeed and utilize the gifts God has given them. These were very subtle lessons learned but are evident in the character development, but will, again, sadly be missed by younger viewers.
Although some audiences may find the story to be slow or uneventful, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” seems to hit a niche in the market that was missed by Spike Jonze and “Where the Wild Things Are,” and that is rarely pinpointed by filmmakers of that genre. Wes Anderson carries over his talents from previous works such as “Darjeeling Limited” into animation almost seamlessly and truly produces a well-rounded film. Perhaps “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” doesn’t quite live up to the title “fantastic,” but it’s certainly truthful to state that Mr. Fox is, at the least, fun, festive, and unique, and for those weary Christmas shoppers, 90 minutes of calm and an opportunity to set your shopping bags down.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.