Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman
After encountering a mishap during one of countless heists, Mr. Fox promises to never steal again in favor of being a responsible husband and father-to-be. This proves to be easier said than done, as Mr. Fox soon plots a scheme to rip off three of the meanest and just plain nastiest farmers in the area. When the trio eventually learns of the fox’s misdeeds, they swear to stop at nothing to rid their farms and the surrounding land of the entire Fox family and their closest friends in an effort to return to a life of normalcy. What ensues is essentially a journey towards self-discovery for Mr. Fox and those closest to him, as well as a general struggle for survival for all involved.
At the risk of sounding redundant, it’s a relief that Wes Anderson’s stop-motion adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s classic has proven that Pixar isn’t running a monopoly over the world of animated cinema. The amount of effort it takes to produce a film of Fox‘s stature should alone make it worthy of praise, but Wes Anderson’s creative touch helps transform an otherwise straightforward kid-friendly romp into one of the most enjoyable films of the year. Furthermore, fans of Anderson will be pleased to know that his knack for portraying quirky, dysfunctional characters and the tense relationships between them is very much present and as appealing as ever, but given the source material, the intended demographic might have a hard time grasping just what exactly is going on outside of the film’s more playful moments.
This aside, Anderson has indeed done well in expanding Dahl’s book into a cohesive, engrossing tale complete with equal parts humor and heartfelt instances of maturation amongst the main characters, namely those part of the Fox family. The film’s pacing is also spot-on in this regard, allowing us all to get an appropriate feel for the situation at hand without bouncing back and forth between its more laid-back moments and those geared towards cartoon mayhem. Anderson then manages to tie all of these elements together with a simply astonishing visual quality that serves as the proverbial icing on the cake.
As with Anderson’s entire filmography, Fox also showcases some terrific efforts provided by an overly talented cast. In fact, it’s these voice talents that effectively equip our furry protagonists with the sense of humanity we tend to search for in animated characters, as well as give the film a big boost by way of the film’s funnier moments. Clooney and Schwartzman push their way to the forefront of my thoughts here, nailing each exchange with one another with the utmost ease. Throw in the efforts of an equally impressive supporting cast and you have yourself one of the most well-acted animated films in recent memory.
To wrap things up, Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox can safely be considered another one of 2009’s best. While the auteur’s signature style is all-too-apparent and sure to be appreciated by fans, younger audiences will ultimately have a hard time doing so. However, the film more than makes up for this minor fault thanks to some superb voice talents, equally impressive dialogue, an excellent sense of humor and above all, a simply breathtaking visual quality that further proves there’s still hope in being unique amongst a slew of computer-animated films. With this in mind, giving Fox a look would most likely a be a wise decision, that is unless you’re truly not fond of Anderson’s body of work.