Fantastic Mr. Fox, 2009
Dir: Wes Anderson
November 27, 2009
So I'm thinking that this was a really good idea for Anderson. It takes a story that is a proven winner and let's Anderson put his visual stamp on it as well as some stop-motion flair, which meshes well with the Roald Dalh vibe, at least better than some other adaptations that I've seen. Sure, it can be a little too Wes Anderson at times, but the script was well written and all the voice actors lends their talent. It has enough moments to keep the kids interested, and is also funny. The moments when characters reflect on themselves aren't awkward, and can be poignant in a way that doesn't make your eyes roll. I'm generally a Wes Anderson fan, but, to me, he had most definitely got stuck in a rut. Here, he seems to have got out of it.
Mr. Fox is sympathetic and likable, but he is not a good guy. He is a thief, he lies to his wife, and, while he loves his son, he can't help but be disappointed in him for being "different" and constantly makes this known, especially when a cousin, Kristofferson, comes and makes it plain that he is a model fox. In contrast, the farmers aren't likable, but seem justified in their quest to get rid of thieving animals. You are always rooting for this charmer and his friends, hoping that they can get away with cussing up some mean ol' farmers. His journey is one of self-reflection, which I'm thinking is why all the yoga jokes are in there. His quips about existentialism aren't over the top, and seem to me a sincere attempt by a fox who wears a tie (even in the absurdness of that) at wondering how he should behave: as a civilized being or as a wild animal (losing his tail bit, figuratively and literally). In the end, he realizes that he can only be himself, which is as Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Fantastic Mr. Fox really brings one back (or puts one back, rather) to a sense of awkward and wide-eyed childhood amazement. Times when grand adventures popped up at every corner, yet with those came insecurities, sadness, the mopes; all indicative of something bigger than you, with some future lesson. Wes Anderson has captured this in a colorful, intimately-animated, tiny little world, one that’s difficult to leave. Absurdly (and dryly) hilarious, melancholy, and constantly delightful.
Oh yeah, the soundtrack? Awesome. "Let Her Dance" by The Bobby Fuller Four is one of the forgotten pop gems of the 60s.