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Movie Review

Fantastic Mr. Fox a.k.a. “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Den fantastiska räven,” “Der Fantastische Mr. Fox,” “Fantastique Maître Renard,” “Kekseliäs kettu”

MPAA Rating: PG for action, smoking and slang humor.

Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family Teens Adults
Genre:
Animation, Adventure, Kids, Family, Comedy, Adaptation
Length:
1 hr. 27 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
November 13, 2009 (select—4 theaters in NYC/LA)
November 25, 2009 (wide—2,000+ theaters)
DVD: March 23, 2010
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

fox in the Bible

badger

hare (rabbit)

weasel

animals in the Bible

farm

lying in the Bible

truth

stealing in the Bible

thieves in the Bible: Theft, Robbery, The two thieves

Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
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 »
Director: Wes Anderson
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.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Watch this film! This is a film the entire family can enjoy. I went to see it with my brother, my little sister, and my cousin. Here are their opinions: My sister (12): “That was a really good film!” (yes, with the exclamation mark) My brother (19): “Yeah, I really liked it.” My cousin (18), who normally more into action films and live-action comedies: “I thought it was going to be stupid, but it was the most legit film I’ve seen all year!”

The storyline (see synopsis at the top of the page) moves quickly, and the characters are real and funny. The voice talent is excellent, and the stop-motion animation is just about perfect in every way. There is never a boring moment in the film. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—JM, age 19 (USA)
Positive—If you have a problem with an invented character stealing from antagonists in a children’s film, perhaps one should skip stories like “Robin Hood” and “Aladdin” as well, or one could just stay at home and leave films to people who live in a realm I like to call “reality.” “Better than average” is an outstanding rating for this film.

It has shortcomings, certainly, but for those of us who read the premise before we went to the movies, we understood that the idea behind the story was a fox stealing chickens (exactly what they do) to take revenge on three nasty farmers terrorizing the farm lands around them. Stating that stealing and lying are wrong is quite obvious. If your child hasn’t figured these basic principles out yet and an animated movie of this caliber will sway him or her in a negative way, he or she is either too young to see it or you’re not doing a great job of laying out the 10 commandments. Take it from someone who’s looking objectively at a children’s film…, it’s a decent film, and the positives and fun in the film far outweigh the negatives. Fun, entertaining and lively.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Mark BC, age 19 (USA)
Positive—This was a fascinating, high quality animated film for adults, with all sort of things about families (particularly good was the relationship between the somewhat alienated son and his “perfect” cousin, as well as the husband and wife), suburban home ownership, responsibility and community, rehabilitation, power and anger from the farmers, and the place of animals in a human dominated world (the concluding scene of the huge big box store and its parking lot, and the fate of the animals remains unsettling.) Not bad in a film market where the most common image is superheroes blowing up things and crashing cars.

There is even some redemption and sacrifice on display, but some Christian commentators didn’t see past the meditation (I was surprised anyone was upset about that. It’s not an evangelical thing but has a long tradition in Christianity as well as Eastern religions) and, of course, the cussing using the word “cuss” instead of the actual cuss words which from the context we know what they are. So if you don’t like cussing you won’t like how this are handled. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Stanley Hirtle, age 64 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Entertaining? yes. Some laughs? yes. Morally better than average? no. Albeit a cute story about animals, the drama focuses on lying and stealing and deceiving. And although Fox and his companions pay for their dastardly deeds through a variety of dreadful troubles, when they finally get themselves out of the mess, they all then plunder a supermarket. If there was a positive message to this story, it was pretty lame. The little kids in the theater who were at first disturbing with their chatter soon were sound asleep in their seats.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Halyna Barannik, age 63 (USA)
Neutral—While there are some “moral” value in this movie. But we have to remember that this is Hollywood, so what’s good to them not necessary good for us. Stealing is wrong and lying is wrong, but yet when Mr. Fox said he’s sorry, it’s not a “repentance” that the bible teaches. He said he was sorry, but yet he’s still thinking about it and in the end Mr. Fox did another stealing and lying to his wife. They showed the consequences of his action, his house got torn apart, he almost got killed, and the other animal have to suffer, too. And yet again, they planned on the revenge to the human, which is also unbiblical.

For parents that wants to take their children to this movie, there is another spiritual element in this movie. Mr. Fox nephew is practicing yoga, which is Hinduism, and he made it look good, in the end the other fox also doing it. So, all in all it’s a good movie and good animation. I am not expecting something totally clean and biblical from Hollywood worldview. And I am not saying that parent to not take their children to this movie, just watch it with discernment and prepare to give your children Christian worldview explanation on things that happened in the movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Vony, age 33 (USA)
Neutral—I really liked the movie, the stop-motion animation was fresh, the story was very cute, and the fact they used “cuss” instead of actually using a cuss word was hilarious. The film was really cute and playful. The very sad part: the meditation crap. They could have had all of this stuff without it. It would have been awesome and cute, but they had to put it in. I’m really happy that they didn’t try to go into the huge philosophical encompass of it, but you hear him chanting to himself. Not cool. I mean, you can be into karate and martial arts without that stuff. Really.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Stephanie, age 18 (USA)
Neutral—I follow critics a lot, and they rated Fantastic Mr. Fox over 90%, so I was pretty excited to see it. I really, really wanted to like it, and expected I would. I’m really disappointed that I didn’t. It’s not a bad movie, it’s just not very good either. Right in the middle. The first half hour is good, but then the pacing just goes out the window, the story screeches to a halt, and the humor isn’t enough to carry it. It is funny; I won’t lie about that. I prefer movies like this, that use wit and circumstance to get jokes rather than having characters pass gas or kick each other in the crotch. The dialogue is funny, and well-delivered by some funny people. But it’s not enough to save the movie.

The animation’s also a mixed bag. Some people might like it; I personally would’ve preferred something more fluid and less creepy. Up close, the characters just have these beady little artificial-looking eyes that really weirded me out. The animation also kept me a bit distant from the story, because the whole thing feels like one of those train sets at science museums. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Matt Triponey, age 18 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I’ve never posted before, but I do usually check this site before we go to the movies. I’m posting because I hate to see another family waste money on this movie. My kids (boys ages 6, 8, and 10) and I went to the movies today; we were deciding between The Fantastic Mr. Fox and A Christmas Carol. I thought A Christmas Carol might be too scary, so I picked Mr. Fox, thinking it would be clean and funny. My kids and I all agreed that this was one of the worst children’s movies we have ever seen! We all wished we’d gone to see a Christmas Carol instead. No one in our theater laughed at all. It was dry and dull. Mr. Bean and the Rat were scary in an annoyingly evil way. The characters all used the word “cuss” in place of bad language; this was extremely annoying as well. I don’t swear, but all the words kept popping in my head whenever a character said “cuss”. That wasn’t an issue for my kids because they haven’t been exposed to those words yet. I couldn’t believe I wasted money to watch this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Julie, age 34 (USA)
Negative—After the kids reading the book, we were disappointed, as the film was so different in the plot. Objected to the meditation bit. Fox was a better character in the book. My 11 and 14 year old thought it was OK, but not what they hoped for, I think. So to sum up, did us no good, wish we had spent the money on some other activity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Tony, age 52 (New Zealand)
Negative—This movie is not good, and Mr. Fox is hardly fantastic. He’s a bad example to his child, shows favoritism, and is untruthful to his wife. The children in the movie are disrespectful, and the wife wishes she was never married. There are few, if any redeeming moments in this movie. It is fanciful, I understand, but the premise is based on lying and prideful actions. While Mr. Fox shows some remorse and tries to make things right in the end, it’s a pretty shallow movie and not one I would recommend.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—J Sargent, age 36 (USA)
Negative—Although my 8 year old boy loved this movie, the rest of the family (ages 5, 17, and 40, and 48) was very disappointed. The use of the word “cuss” throughout the movie was only annoying at first, but then I started worrying about the influence it might have on my son. That could get him in trouble in school. Next, Mr. Fox is a disgusting role model with the lying and deception. Add to that the human antagonist who smoked during every scene, and I thought that was just too much to watch. There were other things throughout the movie that really concerned me as well. It all added up to a negative experience for us. This is an adult movie disguised as a children’s film. Sure, it’s great that film reviewers love the movie—they love adult themes and “fresh” ideas. But as a parent, I want a movie made for kids with family values throughout.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jan, age 40 (USA)
Negative—Overall, I would say this movie moves along pretty slowly. Our kids (ages 11 and 5) seemed mildly interested in it because it looked cartoonish, but I noticed that neither one of them laughed or seemed particularly connected with the movie the entire time viewing it. The room was actually quiet the entire time the four of us viewed the movie (myself, wife, older daughter and younger son).

I enjoyed seeing something artistically different than much of what gets released. I thought it was very unique and stood out in that regard. On the negative side, the word “cuss” was inserted for all the actual cuss words. I could look at this as an amazingly unique way to “cuss” and yet be able to keep a PG rating. Maybe for kids, this method works as they may not be familiar enough with the common phrases where you usually hear cuss words. As an adult though, I didn’t see much difference between actually saying a cuss word and inserting the word cuss…my mind still unfortunately inserted the actual cuss word. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Mike, age 41 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This is my favorite film that I have seen this year. I like watching good quality kids movies, but lately it feels like Pixar and Aardmann are the only companies that still makes talented, and artistic entertainment. Most kids movies these days patronize children and treat them like a dumb mob. Most kids movies are full of pointlessly silly, mindlessly low brow humor that is moderately clean and entirely unoriginal. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a movie in the tradition of classics like “The Wizard of Oz,” “Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers,” “Gumbi,” “The Muppet Movie” and many other classic children’s films.

This movie is groundbreaking. Finally someone thinks outside the box and makes a truly charming classic. Wes Anderson has created a charming, original, and wonderfully enjoyable movie. The voice cast is superb, the story telling is superb, the look of the film is great, the camera work is great, the humor is unexpected and very funny, the animation is truly top notch. This movie is a real treat, it should become a classic kids movie for this next generation. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—William S., age 17 (USA)
Positive—I love anything Roald Dahl, and this was my favorite book when I was in Elementary School, so you can imagine my excitement when a year ago I Goggled “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and saw they were making it a movie! Well, my excitement was worth it when I walked into the theatre and watched this amazing book that is heavily focused on family and being thankful for what we have was projected on the screen. It stayed true to the story and added in some things that should have been in the book!! I loved the scene where the opossum says “Hey, why do you do that, the whistle with the clicky sound?” Fox: “Oh, that’s my trademark.”

I think this is a great movie, no cuss at all! They just say the word “cuss” in place of where other movies might actually cuss. Example: “What the cuss were you thinking?” So, if that doesn’t annoy you you should definitely see it though I don’t recommend it for young children because Mr. Fox and Mrs. Fox get into an argument and she slashes his cheek. Go see it!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Hannah Peters, age 12 (USA)
Positive—The title says it all. The “Fantastic Mr. Fox” really is fantastic. I saw this movie today and found that it was funny, original and exciting. If you think its cheesy, you might want to think about what your saying. Was their anything objectionable in this movie? No, not really. There are shootings but there is no blood or violence. I know director Wes Anderson’s previous works contains a lot of cussing in the movie, but this one didn’t. Instead of saying a cuss word, they would say, “What the cuss is going on here?” which is pretty funny by all means.

Would I recommend this movie to anyone. Yes, I would. Do I think it will win best animated movie of the year at the Oscars, this year? I sure hope it does, but many people say Up was better but I didn’t like Up too much. So to sum up this review in a few words, is that: Go see it and enjoy this clean and funny film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Langston, age 12 (USA)
Positive—I went into this film with high expectations, and they were certainly met! I found this film to be one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time; so bizarre and hilarious that I hardly ever was able to rest from laughing so hard! I can imagine not everyone would like it, though. If you laughed at the preview, you’ll laugh harder at the movie. If you thought the preview was “dumb,” you won’t like the movie. This film had refreshingly good morals and emphasis on family. Apart from a character’s meditating, there should be nothing to deter you from seeing this film. Go ahead, bring your older kids (8 and under probably won’t get the humor). You’ll get an ab workout like you haven’t had in a long time!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Katie, age 15 (USA)
Neutral—This was okay.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Joseph, age 12 (USA)
Positive—It was such a great movie! I loved it! the good parts was that they showed that when Mr. Fox lied or did something bad, he wouldn’t get out of it it just grew bigger and bigger until he gave up and told the truth (kind of). Of course, there was the meditation, and I didn’t like it. But every thing besides that, it was a clean movie. I would say it’s good for most ages.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Bethany, age 12 (USA)
Positive—There is no movie like “Fantastic Mr. Fox”! It is quite out of the ordinary, and is based from the book Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl [The world’s most scrumdiddlyumptious storyteller]. The animated characters frequently said “cuss” instead of using a real cuss word. Note: there is no actual swearing. A very enjoyable and high quality movie. I highly recommend it, although very young kids may not understand the plot well.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Andrew.D., age 14 (Canada)
Positive—I loved this movie! It’s so different from what we see typically these days. Most movies spoon-feed all the jokes to the audience, practically saying “here’s where you laugh!”. This movie didn’t do that and let’s you actually think, and the dialogue is downright brilliant. A friend of mine said the movie was boring and unfunny, but honestly he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Oddly enough though, I can’t imagine kids enjoying this. Wes Anderson has never made a kids film before, and really I think he still hasn’t. Not because of offensive or inappropriate content, but because they just won’t get it. Really only for older kids, teens and of course, adults. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John, age 16 (USA)
Positive—This was a good movie, I recommend it for the whole family! Just be aware of some smoking during the movie, and instead of using bad words they say the word: “cuss.” I recommend this movie. Great film!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Hannah Gutierrez, age 11 (USA)