Fantastic Mr. Fox

Dan Goldwasser Movie Reviews

Fantastic Mr. Fox is Wes Anderson’s unique animated film adaptation that expands on the original Roald Dahl short story.  After promising never to steal squabs again, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) live a simple life – he’s a columnist for a newspaper and they have a moody son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) – but he wants something more.  Deciding to move out of their hole in the ground, he purchases a home in a tree (against the advice of his lawyer Badger (Bill Murray)) – which also happens to be near three different farms, run by Boggis, Bunce and Bean, providing temptation to Mr. Fox’s suppressed instincts. When Felicity’s nephew Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson) comes to stay with them, his superior athleticism and natural skills make Ash feels overshadowed and underappreciated.  With the opportunity too good to overlook, Mr. Fox decides – with the help of building superintendent Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky) – to raid the three neighboring farms.  But this raises the ire of the three farmers, and soon an all-out siege of the Fox’s home begins. With his promise to Felicity broken, Mr. Fox now has to save his family and the community from the famers, make amends to his wife, and get revenge on the farmers. 

The writing by Anderson and Noah Baumbach is clever and natural, aided by the performances of the voice actors which was recorded in natural locations, not in a recording booth. Schartzman’s understated performance as the angst-ridden Ash is quite good, and Clooney lends Mr. Fox a level of cockiness that fits perfectly with the character as portrayed in the film. If this were presented as a CGI-animated film, it wouldn’t have the same impact as the stop-motion does.  The method of animation, as well as the set design and color palette, makes this movie the purest animated representation of Wes Anderson’s unique filmmaking style that I can imagine.  Every shot just screams "Wes Anderson!", so it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that if you aren’t a fan of his films, you’ll likely find Fantastic Mr. Fox a bit of a challenge to get through – but you should at least give it a try.