“Mr. Fox is Fantastic.”

I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. When I saw the trailer for Fantastic Mr. Fox I was not even slightly interested. Even the direction of Wes Anderson did little to arouse my curiosity. So I went in to the film hoping at best for a clever tale and rich animation. What I found was a most delightful and fanciful feast of wit, humor and quirky animals. Based on the 1970’s children’s novel by Roald Dahl, this film takes well known voices like George Clooney and Meryl Streep and combines them with stop motion animation and Digital Content Protection (DCP) to create a simple yet visually stunning world.

Wes Anderson’s screenplay takes its meat from Dahl’s book about Mr. Fox (George Clooney) who gets on the bad side of three rich farmers and goes underground with his friends and family. There they must find a way to survive while continuing to wreak havoc on the farmers. Along the way they learn to exist together and use their own unique abilities to outwit the humans. Mr. Fox is risky and certainly not grounded. He has tried to settle down and raise a family but his inner animal just will not allow it. This is the catalyst for the story as a whole.

Anderson takes liberties with the beginning and the ending so having not read the book I am not sure how purists will feel about the changes. I for one loved every moment. It is very adult friendly in its styling’s and humor. Like Dahl’s other book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this one has dark undertones and a sly wink to it. Sure your kids will like the furry animals and the slapstick moments but I doubt many will get the movie for what it is intended to be. When referring to himself and his existence Mr. Fox states in the film, “Why a fox? Why not a horse, or a beetle, or a bald eagle? I’m saying this more as, like, existentialism, you know? Who am I? And how can a fox ever be happy without, you’ll forgive the expression, a chicken in its teeth?” It is a story about coming to grips with who you are and how you are wired. We are all unique and wonderfully made and the key is finding that in yourself.

If anything this film needs to be seen for its look alone. It has a 70’s flair in regards to the costumes and styling. There is never too much. It is simple and uniform and almost bland in coloring. Yet it is still stunning. The stop motion makes every movement important and defined. Almost like the book comes to life but never loses its illustration. You get the feeling you are watching the characters move on a page instead of losing them in a sea of graphics and animation.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is rated PG for action, smoking and slang humor. I really feel that though safe for most youngsters this film is more suited for older teens and adults. Mainly because of the dialogue. It is quick and snappy and deep. For instance my favorite element is how they do not take curse words out of the dialogue but substitute them with the actual word “cuss”. So it stays clean but as an adult you automatically insert the word of your choice. It is mighty clever indeed and adds a certain humor to it that would be lost otherwise. I give Fantastic Mr. Fox 4 out of 5 jars of cider. From the story, to the animation to the deliver by the cast, it all came together with a snap! As Mrs. Fox puts it, “Everything about this is crazy. Especially him. But that doesn’t make it any more fantastic.” I could not agree more. So says Matt Mungle

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)

(4 out of 5)

Review copyright 2009 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

Be Sociable, Share!