Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) (PG)
So take a Roald Dahl book and then give it to Wes Anderson...the result shouldn't work, and yet it does on such a magnificent level. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" follows Anderson's canon of quirky and cameo filled movies; yet it is one of his most approachable and certainly his most endearing. It's not a movie for children I would argue, simply because of how tangible the drama is...this isn't Disney, that's for certain.
The movie (which appears to be a combination of stop-animation and computer generation...either that or the animation is flawless) begins as Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) get captured by a farmer as they are stealing chickens. Mrs. Fox drops the bombshell—she's pregnant.
Flash forward a couple of fox-years and now young Ash (Jason Schwartzman) has a dad-sized chip on his shoulder and appears to be going through the terrors of fox-adolescence.
His cousin, Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson) is coming to visit for a while and Ash isn't thrilled at the idea of the houseguest. Less so is he pleased when it turns out that Kristofferson is one of the mega-talented people that excels at everything.
Mr. Fox writes a column in a newspaper and decides that he doesn't want to live the rest of his life underground. In mid-life crisis fashion, he decides that he's going to buy a tree...so he does. The house that the family relocates to now sits atop a hill and overlooks the three biggest men in business: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean.
These men are chicken farmers, goose farmers, and cider manufacturers; and they all are evil. Well, they really aren't that bad, but consider them your sworn enemy should you try to steal from them...which is precisely what Mr. Fox intends to do.
Returning to his life of crime for "one last job", Mr. Fox enlists the help of an opossum named Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky).
Punctuated with classic rock songs and the Wes Anderson style, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is interestingly enough the closest to Tarantino that the director has ever come. Told is chapter sections with all the heavy realism of a man and his family going through a stale period in their marriage, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is laugh out loud funny and a glorious unpredictable ride.
It's the quintessential animated movie for those trying to steer away from the juggernaut genre of anime; but not only is it brilliant escapism and definitive of animation, it's a glorious movie regardless of its medium.
What Anderson creates from the source material is a story of aging and beauty (yes, as cliche as that sounds). It's the story of a family, the story of revenge, and a story that sees great hurdles and unexpected twists.
The voice cast here is unparalleled, as Anderson casts usually are. We have Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, and Wes Anderson himself as well as a plethora of others.
What "Fantastic Mr. Fox" does is look at the relationships in a fairly Coen-esque fashion that meets a fairytale. We have the slightly stilted dialogue and the wide sweeping angles, those trademarks are still there; but this movie also serves as a bookmark in Wes Anderson's career. This is the turning point when his work started to become always and consistently revered as worth something. Sure you might have liked his previous work, but it almost all slid under the view of the public eye.
It lost the Oscar for best animated feature to "Up" which is hard compare to, but Anderson's film holds its own and maybe even extends further than Pixar's masterpiece.
Whatever you think, "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is hugely entertaining, wildly colorful, and the most fun I've had in a very, very long time.
Posted by Micah Jones