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Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

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Score: 7/10

Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.

Release Date: November 25th, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Wes Anderson Actors: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wallace Wolodarsky, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson

O

ne would expect something marvelous from the marriage of Wes Anderson’s trademark wry humor and a visually striking stop-motion animation style reminiscent of Jan Svankmajer. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” indeed provides just that. Anderson’s latest project will likely entertain adults over children, with its clever collision of cartoon animals involved in grown-up predicaments, though in the tangled maze of offbeat quips and bristly faces room still remains for a few solid morals – and a psychotic, finger-snapping, toe-tapping, knife-wielding rat (voiced too perfectly by Willem Dafoe).

Mr. Fox (George Clooney) swears off stealing chickens after his wife (Meryl Streep) tells him she’s pregnant. But changing his occupation, upgrading his house, and having a child can’t keep him from being the wild animal that he is, and soon enough the sly fox is planning a three-part heist on notorious nearby farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. When his exploits find the vindictive farmers hunting down the woodland creatures with everything at their disposal, Mr. Fox must devise his most complex scheme yet to save his family and outwit their pursuers.

“I don’t want to live in a hole anymore,” insists Mr. Fox. This un-fox-like notion starts the ball rolling for an adventure so bizarre that nothing about it seems intentioned for anthropomorphic, cute, furry woodland animals. But it’s distinctly Wes Anderson. The peculiar yet carefully planned idiosyncrasies of each character displays Anderson’s knack for attributing dysfunctional family problems to even the most temperate suit-and-tie-adorned carnivorous mammal. This goes all the way down to the part-lawyer, part-demolitions-expert badger (recognizably voiced by Bill Murray).

The animation isn’t very smooth, but unnervingly close close-ups dwelling on inhuman eyes, trademark whistles, a phobia of wolves, and an unpredictable craziness makes the entire ordeal intriguing. There’s a constant, curious anticipation for the next moment of comic genius that borders on absolute absurdity. The re-watch value, however, is questionable. Mr. Fox aims to amaze his friends and family, court danger, and outsmart predators in a fantastically wild animal testimonial. Unlike Fox, the director seems more intent on appealing only to his fans by unleashing his offbeat humor on redemption, forgiveness, consequences, and family values, while the general weirdness prevents the film from connecting with the younger audiences that are likely to show up for a cartoonish-looking Roald Dahl movie adaptation.

– The Massie Twins

 



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