Movie of the Day – Fantastic Mr. Fox
June 30, 2012 1 Comment
I recently got back from viewing Wes Anderson’s latest film Moonrise Kingdom, which will have a review later tonight or tomorrow, and decided to pick a particularly whimsical Anderson film for today’s post. Now I could have gone with something obvious like The Royal Tenenbaums or Rushmore, maybe even picking his first film Bottle Rocket, but I wanted something out of the box and unique to the Anderson profile. I have a certain affection for this film, not only because of the Roald Dahl book the film is based on, but because of the long forgotten art of stop-motion animation. I adore the craft and technique that is require to make an animated film of this nature, often reveling in the details and subtle movements that are required to make these types of film. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a stunning example of what imagination, determination and little bit of flair can set apart an animated film from the rest of the CGI pack.
For 12 years, Mr. and Mrs. Fox (voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep) have lived a peaceful life in the wilderness with their son, Ash (voice of Jason Schwartzman). Shortly after their young nephew Kristofferson (voice of Eric Anderson) arrives for a visit, Mr. Fox’s long-suppressed animal instincts begin to take over and the faithful family man resorts back to his old ways as a cunning chicken thief, endangering not only his family but the entire animal community as well. When evil farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean force the animals underground in a desperate attempt to capture the audacious Mr. Fox, dwindling food supplies force the frightened animals to band together in one last attempt to fight for the land that is rightfully theirs. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
This is just plain fantastic (sorry). Wes Anderson shows incredible talent in taking his often used Andersonisms from live action and placing them in whimsical world of stop motion animation. Rich in details, depth and characterizations, his style and brand of cinema translates perfectly to animation. The quirks that have become trademarks in Anderson films play very nicely with the retro-style animation techniques that create this story book feel to the movie. From gorgeous looking composition shots that are his forte, to the little touches of personality that seep through the actors and the animation creatures, it all feels magical when watching Anderson take the Dahl story and add little bits of flair and care to this creation.
But it isn’t just Anderson and his techniques that make this film standout amongst the lot of animation films that come out year after year, it’s the cast that he is able to assemble that give the film its little push above the cut. Using often seen Anderson actors like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman add the level of familiarity to his films, which is always a joy when actors continue to work with specific directors. Even veteran actors like Meryl Streep and George Clooney bring a little dynamic change to the table, injecting their own personalities into the titular roles of the film. You kind of forget that you are hearing these big name actors talk as their style bleeds into the film, giving it a cohesive feel that doesn’t take you out of the moment. You aren’t just sitting there thinking, “Hey it’s George Clooney speaking” but rather enjoying Clooney being Mr. Fox.
Everything about Fantastic Mr. Fox is perfectly put together. Crossing over generation of viewers as people who grew up reading the book will enjoy the film, the young will get to see a well done animated film, and the film lovers of Wes Anderson will get to appreciate his abilities as a director. His style of film and story telling melds wonderfully with the animated medium and the scruffy looking animation itself adds a warm charm to the fox caper. I honestly rank this up there as one of his top films, easily top three. It proves that he has the ability to develop as a director, not just rehashing the same elemental plot points and themes that he seems to get so comfortable with. I enjoyed the book when I was young and this new rebirth in the story just makes it all the better. Not a one to one retelling of the book, but a Wes Anderson version of the book. That is something you can’t miss out on.
*images via RottenTomatoes