Fabulous, whimsical, funny as all get out - there's somethin
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 11/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When we meet Mr. Fox he's in a bind - he and Mrs. Fox get caught in a trap and she tells him she's pregnant and he promises never ever but never again to risk his life taking from farmers. He'll get a respectable job, as a columnist for the local paper, but two years later (12 in fox years) they have a misfit teen and a visiting cousin and Mr. Fox is feeling middle aged and anxious, and itchy for the danger and criminal excitement of stealing poultry.
He's a wild animal at heart, he insists, not made to settle down into age and oblivion. He comes up with a plan, and along with his friend, the possum plumber, plans one last heist, not just any heist but the big one, stealing from the fiercest farmers around: Boggis, Bunce and Bean (you know: one fat, one short, one lean, but uniformly mean). They don't take it lying down. Mr. Fox's carefree and careless indiscretions turn into an all out war between the farmers and the animals, and everyone will have to work together and set aside rivalries and resentment and hurt feelings. The danger is real, and they take unnecessary risks, but they have a lot of fun and adventure along the way.
I really dig the quirky and stylish vibe of the irresponsibly fantastic Mr. Fox. Voiced by George Clooney with flair and a fancy whistle and a click, and animated in a silly and stylish retro stop motion approach. It's a very fun film, and my wife and I loved it and laughed out loud, a lot, but so did our kids (and so, apparently, did lots of others who couldn't stop busting up or exclaiming around us in the theaters). The film's got something for everyone, and stays true to the feel of Roald Dahl's classic tale while giving it the whimsical feel and quirky delights that can only be found in a Wes Anderson film. The retro-stylish clothing and settings and the family dynamics, especially that between a larger than life but aloof father and a struggling son (played perfectly by Jason Schwartzmann), fit easily into his oeuvre. I loved the look of the film, the delightful attention to detail, the colors and lighting were perfect, and the deliberately low tech touches, where you could see the ruffling hair and wobbling of water, just add to the charm. Great stuff, highly recommended."
Intelligent family filmaking; smart as a fox
Gregory Ehrbar | Orlando, FL | 11/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Frankly, they had me by opening the movie with "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," which by the way, is mistakenly listed in the credits as performed by The Wellingtons. Actually it is the soundtrack version by the MelloMen, but I've seen it mislabeled elsewhere too. And the highly underrated "Love" from "Robin Hood." How nice.
The entire score is as unconventional as the film -- dominated by banjo and rhythm tracks to give it an "independent film" texture rather than the now-obligatory John Williams-type score (not that I don't love those scores too, this is just a fresh approach and avoids the modern factory film feel).
Even the titles are clever, all in keeping not only with a singular director's vision, but also very much in the Roald Dahl style. This particular book, by the way, is perhaps one of the most challenging to bring to film since it is one of the few Dahl stories without magical fantasy elements.
I think the overall takeaway, and the thread through all the other comments on this topic is -- intelligence. That's a prized commodity in so much of today's entertainment, animated or otherwise. This is a film as smart as a fox."
Fantastic and Foxy
Dogville | Sunny Island | 11/21/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Wes Anderson's screenplay for the Roald Dahl classic Fantastic Mr. Box brings a refreshing update to the original with modern day elements such as conglomerates, yoga, bombs and supermarkets. The new storyline veers away from the original in a number of aspects but is entertaining nonetheless. It's really more for adults than the usual children classic.
The casting of George Clooney and Meryl Streep as the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Fox is the wisest and almost natural choice. Clooney's crafty voice and Streep's subtleness brings the animated puppets to life. Bill Murray voices the wise attorney Badger. The range of expressions on the characters and the comedic effects they bring shine throughout the movie. Interspersed within are songs from The Beach Boys and Jarvis Cocker. A-"
4.5 stars for this pretty fantastic little film.
RMurray847 | Albuquerque, NM United States | 12/10/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My family and I saw FANTASTIC MR. FOX on Thanksgiving, one of the busiest movie-going evenings of the year. We were in a group of about 30 folks watching this film...a sad statement. It's one of the wittiest (not just funny, but witty) animated films in a long time, and a truly original piece of filmmaking. When movies like PLANET 51 or ...CHANCE OF MEATBALLS can make 5 times as much at the box office, I can only bemoan how many people have caused their kids (and themselves) to miss out on the experience of seeing how challenging films can be, and how much FUN that can be.
Director Wes Anderson is one of my favorite filmmakers. I know there are MANY people who agree, and MANY MORE who disagree fairly vehemently. For everyone who loved DARJEELING LIMITED, many more found it inert, pretentious, boring or unemotional. Ditto ROYAL TENNANBAUMS. Double ditto LIFE AQUATIC. I admit, Anderson can be a bit "clever" in his style. He films everything from a lower than usual angle. His camera either sits still or moves side to side...seldom in and out. He keeps us at a distance this way...much like his characters tend to be emotionally distant or shut off. The humor in his scripts is often dry and laced with sadness. When his characters to express their emotional sides, it comes in short bursts that demonstrates a form of being stunted. His characters are super smart, and very unwise.
Yet in FANTASTIC MR. FOX, even Anderson's critics are finding much to love. The same filmmaking style is there, but there is also something charming about the way in which he trains his camera on these awkwardly animated figures. They are frequently filmed at "odd" angles, but what this does is allow us to SEE more of the character than we might in a more traditionally framed movie. His reduced depth-of-field works even better with animation...particularly animation this "crude." (It isn't really crude, don't freak out.)
Adapted from the Roahld Dahl story, MR. FOX follows its title character...a dashing, daring young scoundrel of a fox who gives up his dangerous life of chicken-thieving and living on the edge in order to settle down with the love of his life and have a family. Skip ahead some time, and the Foxes are living in an underground den, where dad is a newspaper reporter (an endangered species?) and his son constantly disappoints him by having a singularly UNdaring nature. Fox is a good husband and father, but his true nature constantly nags at him, and in a mad burst, he purchases an above ground tree in which to live. And from there, he can clearly see the facilities of three big, evil farmers. And it's a short step from there to returning (albeit without telling his wife) to a life of thieving and trickery. It makes him feel young again and makes him feel he's being true to his nature. It also gets him, his family and the whole animal community into some SERIOUS trouble.
There really isn't much to the plot, per se. The film is more about little incidents, observations and conversations. And it's all shown to us via stop-motion animation. These furry animals move in a manner frankly reminiscent of the original KING KONG. We see their fur move from frame to frame, where the animators clearly were manipulating the little creatures. They are primitively constructed...and yet the film is 100% true to its own aesthetic throughout. While many scenes look flat (and everything is brown)...there is a feeling of life in every moment. It may be the rippling fur, and it may be the outstanding voice work.
George Clooney plays Mr. Fox and his wife is voiced by Meryl Streep. Jason Schwartzmann is their cowardly, clumsy son. These 3 work together very well, and although I wasn't sitting there the whole time noticing that stars were doing the voices...there was also a sense of familiarity that was very welcome. Clooney has become a master of the "wacky" character (MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, BURN AFTER READING, LEATHERHEADS)...and this movie shows that it is his voice as much as his physicality that makes this work. Schwartzmann plays the "dreary" son much like we'd expect him to...infused with chagrin and sadness.
As I mentioned, Anderson's humor is often coupled with sadness...and we have that here too. Whether Fox is longing for his past life, or his wife wishes her husband was happy with what he had or their son wishes Dad was prouder of him...that sense of sadness is there. These are the richest animated characters in a long time (outside of most Pixar films)...and it's easy to care about these funny looking creatures. There are many delightful other characters as well, including badgers (Bill Murray, hilarious), moles and so on.
But the movie can be readily enjoyed without reading much into it. It's got loads of off-kilter humor (the shots of Fox eating are almost worth the price of admission!), a GREAT soundtrack (Anderson is almost as good as Tarantino at picking great music) and a satisfying conclusion, one that delivers a Hollywood feel, but is uniquely odd as well.
So please do yourself (and the film) a favor, and check out FANTASTIC MR. FOX. It is, indeed, fantastic."