28 November 2009

Review: "Fantastic Mr. Fox"

"Are you cussing with me?"

Fantastic Mr. Fox, while based off a story written by Roald Dahl, is absolutely a Wes Anderson film. I have professed by unrequited love for The Royal Tenenbaums,
and I have told everyone I know that it is a must-see film. When I first heard that Wes Anderson was going to make an animated film the only thought in my mind was that I had to see it as soon as possible. That was over a year ago. When I was younger I remember reading James and the Gaint Peach over and over again. And I think we have all read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Obviously I was very excited to see what Wes Anderson could create, especially with a screenplay co-authored by Noah Baumbach (who wrote and directed The Squid and the Whale, and the underappreciated Margot at the Wedding). My only disappointment was when I saw that Cate Blanchett (one of my favourite actresses) had dropped out as the voice of Mrs. Fox. This may be the only time in history I will be ever be disappointed to hear Meryl Streep has been cast in a film! Fantastic Mr. Fox is an animated film, but I do not think that it is aimed at a younger audience. Its use of stop-motion animation is refreshing in today's world of animation, especially with films like Up, that are visually stunning, but, in my honest opinion, cannot connect with all viewers.

Mr. Fox (George Clooney) is a fox with such visions of grandeur that his action eventually put his family and friends in danger. His wife (Meryl Streep) begged him to stop his dangerous ways when she became pregnant. Two human-years later, the family moves from a foxhole into a tree. Their son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) is in the midst of his awkward teenage years, and is crushed when his cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson, brother of Wes) comes to live with them. Kristofferson is more athletic than Ash, and receives more attention from Mr. Fox. Across from their new home are the farms of three of the most notoriously evil farmers in the world. Mr. Fox is overcome with the desire to commit one last heist. While Mr. Fox is ultimately successful in his three attempts to steal from the farmers, he underestimates how far the men will go to gain their revenge.

It is obviou
s how much effort Wes Anderson and his production team put into the creation of the film. Fantastic Mr. Fox is the most enjoyable animated film I have seen since Finding Nemo. The film does contain Wes Anderson's signature theme of quirky family dynamics. Anderson had the voice actors (except Meryl Streep, for unknown reasons--perhaps she joined the film too late) working on a real farm and acting out scenes rather than just adding voices inside a sound both, which makes the film seem more real and less animated. There are very dark elements of the film which make the film more adult, and Wes Anderson's films often polarize audiences, and this is no exception. Fantastic Mr. Fox is an enjoyable film that is both humorous and touching. To borrow from the title, it is a fantastic film.

My rating: 4 stars out of 4.

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