Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Adventure,Comedy Rated: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Rated: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

As a fan of Wes Anderson (and hater of Paul W.S. Anderson…don’t you dare mix them up), I was looking forward to this film. Anderson’s very unique and inviting method of film making is unparalleled in today’s explosion-driven movie economy. What Anderson does in Fantastic Mr. Fox is both true to his work in past films, and strikingly different. First, he remains true with his relationship-based approach of characterization, where we the audience learn more about the characters through their relationships with other characters and their actions concerning them than through any real sort of story telling and “plot”. Second, Anderson continues to innovate his unique crafts-man like approach to film making. It is unlike anything else you will see in a major picture, and very rewarding. Finally, the difference between this film and his previous pieces is the subject. Where as The Darjeeling Limited and The Royal Tenenbaums were marred by the various tragedies of life itself to create a downcast tone, Mr. Fox is a children’s movie, and as such has a much more palatable uplifting tone. This movie, I don’t doubt, will be the one that most people will enjoy, in contrast to his other films where eccentricities chase many away. This attention is what Anderson finally deserves, and Fantastic Mr. Fox has all the goods to prove his worth.

Synopsis: Adapted from the Roald Dahl story. Mr. Fox is a middle aged fox with a wife and son, Ash. As a family man, Mr. Fox is settled down now with a cushy newspaper columnist job, a new tree house, and plenty of restlessness. This restlessness eventually gets the best of him, and he reverts back to the activities that young Mr. Fox found so appealing; stealing chickens from the local farm. But alas, all is not the same as it once was. Bean, Boggis, and Bunce are the owners of three large farms on which Mr. Fox plunders. Furious and power hungry, Bean hunts down Mr. Fox. Before he knows it, Mr. Fox finds his family running for their lives and the whole fate of the animal community in the air, all because of his selfish lust for action…

Acting: Well there is not any real acting per say, just great voice work. If you’ve seen any other Wes Anderson movie, you will be familiar with the way in which the characters deliver their lines, with the exception of Mr. Fox, here played by George Clooney (Ocean’s 11) , who seems out of place in this movie. I’m not saying he did a bad job, its just that his voice doesn’t add to the character, its basically the same kind of character he played in O Brother, Where Art Thou? Maryl Streep (Mamma Mia) voices a perfectly sincere Mrs. Fox, Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore) voices Mr. Fox’x sly son Ash, and Wallace Woodarsky (a writer from The Simpsons) voices Mr. Fox’s de-facto side kick, Walley. Other big name actors such as Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Michael Gambon appear for smaller roles. (22/25)

Plot/Script: The plot is sweet, meaningful, action-packed, and funny at times. While generally the story strays from the original book for more exciting pastures, it manages to convey the same themes demonstrating the importance of family and friends above all else. The dialogue is very witty, I would say too witty for most children to be able to follow, but I think that the plot is simple enough that they will be entertained. For the rest of us, the plot is rewarding and the interesting dialogue will keep you watching. The only negative here is a handful of scenes that appear in the movie that don’t have anything to do with advancing the story. Although these aren’t bad scenes they do seem unecessary and distract from the main story while adding (very) minor characters for the audience to keep track of. (21/25)

Direction: Anderson is at the top of his game here mixing his unique style with the creativity required to capture the attention of children. Digging holes in the ground for his puppets to run around in, Anderson’s movie is very unique in look and direction, which will throw pleanty of people off. Still, the amount of work required to make the movie alone makes it worth seeing. Kudos to a director for sticking with his style and not giving into the trend of cheap (and relatively easy-to-do) animation. (24/25)

Special Effects/Music/X-Factor: Obviosly the “effects” are fantastic, but they do have limitations; the downside of working in 2 dimentions is a diminished sense of realism. Still, that is all in the eye of the beholder. I personally liked everything about the movie, and found the camera movement tricks Anderson uses to get around some of the triky action bits very cool. Music is also good, if not in everyone’s taste it at least helps to enhance the whimsical tone of the story. The originality of every aspect of this movie is its X-factor. (22/25)  

The Verdict:

What Kept Me Watching: Faithful to the childrens book, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a heart-warming and entertaining story filled with memorable characters and well-written dialogue. The craft-like and work-intensive look of the movie is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. A treat for all ages.

What Killed It: Anderson’s directoral style is not for everyone, and those who fear anything but the mainstream will not understand it. Clooney’s ego is a bit of a distraction.

Summary: Proof that hard work and personal integrity does pay off.

Final Rating: (89/100) = B+

Previous Review: Rated: Twilight Saga: New Moon

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