Friday, November 27, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Today I saw Wes Anderson's first animated feature Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Based Roald Dahl's classic book, this film centers around the Fox family—Mom, Dad, their son Asher, and a visiting cousin named Kristofferson. Mr. Fox has given up a life of crime stealing birds for a more respectable job as a newspaper columnist. He's moved the family from a modest hole to the inside of an above-ground tree. His son Ash competes with his seemingly perfect cousin for his parents' attention because he feels he can do no right.

Mr. Fox doesn't like the new farmers in town, so he decides to go behind his wife's back and perform one last "job" of stealing with the help of a friend.

The first part of the theft goes well, though his wife is suspicious. She finds a tag with the farmer's name on it still attached to the chicken Mr. Fox claimed to get at the supermarket, but he talks his way out of it.

The next attempt at stealing is not as successful and results in the farmers waging an all-out war against the fox family, endangering all of the animals that live beneath the surface. In the chaos of the fight, the farmers also capture Kristofferson and hold him hostage above ground, mistaking him for Ash.

This all happens in a very fast-paced, visually appealing way. The landscapes are beautiful and the animals are life-like, especially in the way the foxes move. The dialog is clever but not too cute and the delivery (by George Clooney, Meryl Streep and other well-known actors) is right on. It's refreshingly not exaggerated like many other kids' film characters.

Is it the best animated film of the decade? Well, no—but it's certainly a satisfying, entertaining, family friendly option amidst many lesser alternatives.

Wes Anderson deserves kudos for switching genres so seamlessly and his style translates well to animation. Perhaps he'd consider doing another?


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