Film: The Fantastic Mr. Fox


Cast includes: George Clooney as Mr. Fox, Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox, Bill Murray as Badger, Michael Gambone as Mr. Bean, Willem Dafoe as Rat
Screenplay/direction: Wes Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited)
Genre: Animated adventure for all ages, based on a novel by Roald Dahl

In brief: Following a fiasco at the squab farm, Mr. Fox vows to go straight. Two years later as a successful newspaper man/fox, Mr. Fox of “Fox Around Town” is antsy again. He thinks a change of address might do the trick. He announces to Mrs. Fox that he doesn’t want to live in a hole any more, and he’s going to do something about it. But his dream house/tree house turns out to be in a very dangerous neighborhood for someone of his species… in clear view of three nasty farmers… Boggis, Bunce and Bean. The Fox family, Mr., Mrs, and young Ash, move into the tree house anyway. When nephew Kristofferson comes to live with them, life is sweet.

Or is it? Kristofferson is a natural at all things athletic, while young Ash is… well, Ash tries hard. “Do you think I’m an athlete?” Ash asks his father. “What’s the subtext on this one?” Mr. Fox answers. An ad in the newspaper for bandit hats at 40% off inspires Mr. Fox to dream of one more big job. With his lawyer and friend, Badger, as his sidekick, the Fox plan of heisting some Boggis chickens works like a charm. Only after the family pantry is stocked with chickens, does Mr. Fox tell Badger that his “big plan” is actually a three-parter. By the time all three nasty farmers have been violated by Fox and gang, the farmers decide to gang up on the Foxes. What follows is all-out war, during which we witness heroic actions by some... and a fox in mid-life crisis.

This one is more than just a kids’ cartoon that adults can tolerate. It works on many levels. As an adventure, it will no doubt hold the attention of the younger audience members. As a wonderfully well-written and well-read screenplay, it will keep older audiences chuckling. The animation style is not one of super hyped-up computer effects. In fact, it’s refreshingly simple and charming. There were no big laugh lines… rather, a constant barrage of chuckle lines, which struck different audience members differently. There was an almost constant simmering of chuckles in the audience, as the various funnies hit their mark. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is silly, intelligent, quirky and a lot of fun for kids of all ages.

popcorn rating

3 popped kernels

Popped kernels for wonderful animation, great story, great characters, excellent voices... especially George, who was perfect!

 

Mr. Fox animation… what’s old is new again

If you’re admiring the very realistic fur on the foxes and wondering how they did that in the computer… they didn’t. The animation is pretty much what it looks like… puppets in stop-action animation.
The look of Mr. Fox is totally charming, with every detail carefully planned and created in miniature. The characters were created in three sizes… full size, close-up size and distance size. The sets, clothing and props were inspired by Roald Dahl’s home in England. In fact, Wes Anderson spent some time living in the Dahl home so that he could “absorb” some of the atmosphere as he developed the screenplay.
For those who are tired of the overly flashy and computerized images in most animation, Mr. Fox will be a welcome treat. But don’t expect a lot of imitators. Mr. Fox was more labor intensive then one might think, given its rather primitive look.

 

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