Fantastic Mr. Fox
Twentieth Century Fox
10 of 10
As a kid I read a lot. Specifically, I read a lot of fantasy. Real life stories were too normal, too boring, too unadventurous. I spent loads of time as a child nose deep in L. Frank Baum, C.S. Lewis, and Roald Dahl creations. I always balk at film adaptations of my much-loved childhood memories- too often, the story is contorted to be mass-marketable, generic, or romanticized. Of course, I was ever so slightly apprehensive to hear that one of my favorite directors was adapting one of my favorite books to film. Apprehension was utterly unnecessary.
To put it simply, Fantastic Mr. Fox is, well, fantastic. It’s delightful, quirky, and silly in all the best ways possible. Wes Anderson’s interpretation of one of Roald Dahl’s lesser known children’s books is phenomenal- the opposite of the cheap Hollywood-ized movie I was dreading. I found this movie to be the best film I’ve seen all year. Mr. Anderson, you’ve made a fan proud.
Fantastic Mr. Fox tells the tale of a fox (what were you expecting?). Mr. Fox, brilliantly voiced by George Clooney, is a former fowl thief, retired to a safe domestic life writing a column for the local paper and supporting his wife (Meryl Streep) and kid (an amazingly sullen and funny Jason Schwartzman). Plain domesticity doesn’t do it for Foxy, and he moves the family to a fancy tree house overlooking three farms- those of the infamously mean farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. The temptation is too much- Foxy hatches a plan to rob all three farms, which as one can expect, results in mayhem. Mr. Fox continually showcases his fantastic ability to work himself out of a pickle- but not without the help of his son, nephew, and friends.
The story deviates some from the children’s book, but the addition of extra characters (like cousin Kristofferson) and extra subplots (like Fox’s son Ash’s quest to be seen as an athlete) don’t detract from the original story. Rather, they add to it, making it a much more enjoyable experience. Anderson’s attention to detail is superb- he makes the most of gesticulation, facial features, and voice inflection to add an extra level of humor and whimsy to the movie.
I can’t tell you just how incredibly enjoyable the movie was- it’s silly, sarcastic, and seriously intricate. Wes Anderson throws in lots of funny little inside jokes- like casting Mario Batali as a chef, or featuring the theme music from the audio version of the book (hit up the trivia page for the movie on IMDB.com for more tidbits like this). Anderson also had the genius thought to have his actors record their voices outside- a lot of the sound effects you’ll hear in the film (leaves rustling, planes flying by, etc.) were a natural result of this.
As I write this review, I feel myself rambling a bit about the sheer fantastic-ness of it all. Really, the film was so charming and funny. The dialogue was sarcastic and witty, the animals would burst into spontaneous dance, and there’s lots of cussing in the movie- literally every curse word is replaced with a variation of “cuss.” I think I might incorporate “cluster-cuss” into my everyday language.
Don’t let Wes Anderson’s previous film endeavors deter you- Mr. Fox is not your run of the mill Anderson film. The film is a gloriously fun tribute to one of Roald Dahl’s most fantastic creations, and is truly worth seeing.