Fantastic Mr. Fox

Never having read the Roald Dahl book that this clever stop-motion animation feature was based on, I can’t say if it is true to the original story and characters, but it sure does make an amusing experience all on it’s own. This kind of movie practically cries out to be intricate and detailed – as in Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit, and Chicken Run, or Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and the Corpse Bride. And so it is – the debonair and daring Mr. Fox, in a sharp suit, the trying-to-be-responsible family man, but alas – all to eager to recapture the thrills of stealing chickens (and cider and geese) from the meanest farmers in the neighborhood. Every aspect of Mr. Fox’s character and that of his family and friends, and their surroundings is lovingly and briskly detailed – from the tree-burrow they live in, and the sports-field at the school his son Ash attends. George Clooney and Meryl Streep do a bang-up job, voicing Mr. Fox and the Mrs., although for my money, the most amusing-and menacing- of the cast of animal characters was the sneaky and slinky Rat, voiced by Willem Dafoe.

The plot itself is as thin as a whisker: cunning plan at first successful followed by a quick unraveling to utter disaster at the hands of eminently hissable villains, but Mr. Fox and his loyal family and friends pulling together to save themselves, concluded by happy ending with obligatory twist. The fun of it all is in the details of character and their interactions, deft visual humor and witty conversation. This is one of those family movies which can be truly enjoyed by all the members of a family, watching together.

Of the extras on this DVD, I found two of particular interest: a feature which explained (yet again) how stop-motion is done, and contained the startling information that a changes in the weather and humidity would affect the various sets as filming was underway. The filmed movements are so tiny and precise – that filming could not continue until the ‘set’ settled down again. There was also a funny and brief featurette on the ball game played by Mr. Fox’s hapless but hopeful son.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is available from Amazon, and from other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her previous book “To Truckee’s Trail” and her current book project – The Adelsverein Trilogy is also available through Amazon.com. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com.

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