Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic is the operative word in director Wes Anderson's adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Fantastic Mr. Fox. The film tells the story of Mr. Fox, who gave up his life of stealing chickens to settle down with his wife, Mrs. Fox, and start a family, but when Mr. Fox relapses into his criminal ways 12 fox-years later, everything just busts loose. What the cuss!

The film is a marvelous piece of stop-motion animation. Where as we all have seen stuff like Wallace and Grommet, and many have seen Nightmare Before Christmas, the stop-motion in this film is so much more clever, charming, and lovable as a form of artistic expression than any other example of the form. One moment in particular, Mr. and Mrs. Fox's conversation in front of the underground waterfall is simply breathtaking, but not only that, the design of the furry animals in the film are just so cute and adorable.

The animation is brought to life, thanks to the terrific voice-acting from the likes of George Clooney and Meryl Streep as Mr. and Mrs. Fox, but it is Jason Schwartzman that steals the show as their misunderstood son, Ash, who simply wants to be an athlete and win his dads approval. In many ways, the film is like all Wes Anderson films, in that it is all about family dynamics, except this time relaying those dynamics to the entire animal community. You can't help but love to see Bill Murray's Badger get in an argument with George Clooney's Mr. Fox, and the great cousin rivaly between Ash and Kristofferson (Eric Anderson), is absolutely hilarious.

While Wes Anderson has made many films, this one is his finest. It includes all of the stuff that I have always enjoyed about his works, such as the dynamic of the dysfunctional family, but it sheds itself of all that has held me back in his previous works; not to mention, his typical absurdities tend to work far better in the realm of fantastical animation than it does in live-action.

This really is a wonderful family film. It is easily accessible, and in many ways, it's like the old school Warner's cartoons that I used to watch when I was little, very slapstick, but also witty with fantastic dialogue. The film is fantastical in all respects, it never takes itself seriously, and that is why it works, cause even when it gets serious, Anderson pulls back and delivers some humor. When the credits roll on Fantastic Mr. Fox, you will have had such a good time at the movies, that you wont even realize how much time has passed and you will be dancing along with the characters.

I give Fantastic Mr. Fox an A+!

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