Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

FANTASTIC MR. FOX
DIRECTED BY: WES ANDERSON
WRITTEN BY: WES ANDERSON & NOAH BAUMBACH
NOVEL SERIES BY: ROALD DAHL
OVERALL SCORE: 8.00/10

After his wife (Meryl Streep) told him she was pregnant, Mr Fox (George Clooney) swore off his bandit lifestyle, instead taking a job as a column writer. Continuously seeking his old, more wild lifestyle, Fox decides to return to his bandit lifestyle and steal from three local farmers. But when these 3 local farmers band together to weed out Fox, he realizes his ways have not only put his family at risk, but rather everyone he knows.

With a stacked cast of Anderson regulars and critical darlings, it's no wonder Fantastic Mr. Fox was seen as a chance for Anderson to re-take the reigns on his career path. Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox is an amusing, well captivating tale, that honors the history of stop-motion in its moves, while enjoy modern techniques and just really having fun. As is a growing trend, FMF is a children's story that's not really a children's story. It deals teenage angst, trials of a middle age man, and the destruction of an entire population. Characters die (well one character), cuss (though instead of actually saying the words they just say "cuss"). It's a mature film, wrapped in shell of a childhood fable, wonderfully combining elements of both. It's no Up mind you, but it's strong enough to have fun with itself.

Though no matter what I have to admit it took me a while to get into the visual style. The opening is a bit of a throw you into the mix, and it took me some time to develop a genuine acceptance for the style. Not to mention Anderson spends basically no time on backstory, instead allowing the movie to develop over time. This is good in that we grow to understand the characters as they grow to understand themselves, but much like them we're often left in the dark on why they make the decisions they do. Not to mention there's not a lot of depth to be found, but that's hardly that big of a negative. Really what Anderson does best here, is what he does best in general, analyze, not criticize, characters.

Anderson has fun with characters, and as usual, his characters have fun (in their own weird way) within their world. He develops odd character attributes that sets them apart, while keeping them grounded to the confines of the story. It allows Fantastic Mr. Fox to be fast paced, fun, and constantly on the go. Though what makes it enjoyable is the childlike spin Anderson has applied. Fantastic Mr. Fox never takes itself too seriously, and even during its more dramatic moments there's a sense of levity, and curiosity that grabs the viewer. It keeps the viewer captivated, and allows for those silly scenes to work all the more. It's a shame this was so badly marketed. There's a lot to enjoy here, and it's sure to leave a smile on your face.

If you can buy into its style, you'll find Fantastic Mr. Fox a highly enjoyable experience, that's sure to leave a smile on your face.

6 better thoughts:

thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

I've already brought in to the style (which I think looks amazing) and I loved the original story but there's just something about Anderson that I don't always 'get'. I'm intrigued to see what I think of this, it's out over here in March.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I opted out of seeing this, I don't know if I'll like it. But maybe I'll check it out next weekend.

I'm still, firmly, in the Coraline camp though, although that probably is not happening.

Univarn said...

@thistime This is definitely a Wes Anderson film it's the odd way he approaches the stop-motion (very tv-showy) that you gotta buy in ito.

@Andrew Don't worry, this is so different from Coraline you don't have to worry about picking a camp.

The Mad Hatter said...

Y'know, it's been quite a year for animation, and it's been really hard to decide which of them is tops.

Between the review and podcast #1, I've already done a lot of talkin' about this movie...so let me just say "great review of a great flick", and keep the good cuss coming you old cuss you!

Candice Frederick said...

hmm....i still need to check this movie out. haven't seen it yet. but i liked your review. this helps.

Castor said...

@univarn: I just re-nominated your blog for the Kreativ Blogger Award because you are worth it ;)

Cheers

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