Fantastic Mr. Fox (PG) - 2009 - Runtime: 87 minutes
Voiced by: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray
Director: Wes Anderson
I really enjoy Wes Anderson. I absolutely loved Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. I really liked The Darjeeling Limited and even his weakest movies, in my opinion (The Life Aquatic and Bottle Rocket), are still great. So I was really looking forward to his take on a classic Roald Dahl movie. And I'm a big fan of Roald Dahl - my brother had all of his books and I would read a lot of them - my favorites were The BFG and the The Twits. Dahl has a unique perspective on children's literature - something that's a bit absurd and a bit scary, but with a lot of heart and good humor. And although this movie isn't necessarily a great kids film (I think some kids might find it absolutely dull), it's still a great, funny and unique movie - worth watching a few times.
The story unfolds as Mr. Fox and his wife are trying to escape from a squab farm (yeah, they're a kind of bird - the poor man's chicken, I guess) when they get caught. At that moment, Mr. Fox decides to dedicate his life to his wife and family (after Mrs. Fox reveals she's pregnant). After a few years later (several in fox years), Mr. Fox is not content with his digs (literally) and wants to move into a tree. After moving in, he's tempted to go back to his stealing ways - where he annoys the cuss out of the local big wig farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean. They decide to wage war on Mr. Fox and hilarity and calamity ensue. It's a great set up for some good jokes and action - all in stop motion.
Which, by the way, is pretty wonderful. I like stop motion a lot and I think Wes Anderson's visual style really suits the stop motion here. His story telling also fits this story well - he embellishes the story with some great side characters and plots. The best is Mr. Fox's son, Ash, who's a bit awkward and feels like a social outcast not only among his peers, but his family, too. Jason Schwartzman is perfect as the voice - he has some of the best lines and gags in the movie. And it all works, it never feels forced. I think that's what I like about Wes Anderson's movies - he seems to really find the poignant and funny moments between families. He's great at showing the best and worst moments in a family's life without ever seeming too harsh or too mellow.
It's a great, fun movie and writing about it makes me want to go see it again. If it's still playing nearby, check it out, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how funny it is.
Rating: See It!