The seemingly forgotten style of stop-motion animation never looked as good, nor was as funny as in Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Director Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book Fantastic Mr. Fox into a stop-motion animated film, is nothing short of imaginative genius. Though he is not known for making films that are light and mindless, Anderson is able to seamlessly incorporate his trademark quirkiness into the G-rated, kid-friendly film.
The cast alone should be enticing enough to make anyone who has even a tiny appreciation for film run out to catch Fantastic Mr. Fox. Anderson’s usual roster of Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson lend their voices to supporting characters in the film. The real treat, however, is hearing George Clooney and Meryl Streep as Mr. and Mrs. Fox.
Mr. Fox is as sly as they come. But he puts his thieving and conniving ways behind him after his wife announces she is pregnant. He makes being a family man his top priority, and decides to make an honest living by writing a column – which he worries no one reads &- for the local newspaper. Mr. Fox gets in touch with Stan Weasel (Anderson himself), a real estate agent, to look into moving out of the hole he lives in because it makes him feel poor. Being a conscious consumer, Fox asks his Badger lawyer (Murray) whether a tree would be a safe piece of property to buy. He and his family soon move into the tree, just a field across the farms of the three most evil men: Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), Bunce (Hugo Guinness) and Bean (Michael Gambon). Mr. Fox then talks his good, albeit a little dazed, friend, a possum named Kylie (Wally Wolodarsky), into joining him on his last, three-part heist.
In true Anderson fashion, Mr. Fox’s son Ash &- voiced with perfect teen angst and attitude by Jason Schwartzman – is resentful of his father, yet constantly seeks his approval. This is made even more difficult when his taller and more athletic cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson) moves in with the family.
With this summer’s Up and Monsters vs. Aliens, it is easy to forget just how much can be achieved by a stop-motion animated film. The supermarket and scenic route scenes are awe-inspiring. The film’s art department and set decorators did an incredible job at making the intricately detailed world of Mr. Fox real and fun.
Screenwriters Anderson and Noah Baumbach definitely took liberties in adapting Dahl’s book and made quite a few alterations. Typical of an Anderson film, the story provokes poignant questions about the meaning of life (“Who am I? How can a fox ever be happy without a chicken in its teeth?”). While the characters and main plot remain much like Dahl’s; what is added elevates this film from kid flick to one that can be enjoyed by all.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is definitely one of the best animated films of the last decade, and certainly one of the funniest of the year.
Fantastic Mr. Fox opens in theatres Nov. 25