Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" is a very eccentric film in the beloved styles of both Wes Anderson and Roald Dahl. It's a very amusing and entertaining movie chronicling Mr. Fox (played by George Clooney, who is most definitely himself in the back of my mind but at the same time well-embodying of his character), who's a newspaper writer as well as a consistent tormentor of Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), Bunce (Hugo Guinness), and Bean (Michael Gambon), who are considered "some of the meanest farmers in the history of the valley" by Fox's lawyer Badger (Bill Murray). He's had contact with them for a long time (presumably), but now he's their neighbor, living in a huge tree.

This film is just as unconventional as it sounds, but then again, that's what makes it Anderson (who wrote the screenplay with Noah Baumbach). Mr. Fox would continue and continue with these daring exploits, but he's calmed down due to the fact that his wife Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep, in a equally esoteric role) wants to settle down. But, in a rather dubious move, Mr. Fox puts himself back into the line of fire by buying that tree-house against his lawyer's counsel. Oddly enough, a quiet and skilled nephew named Kristofferson (Eric Anderson, who is a good fit in the role) comes to live with them, arousing jealousy in the heart of the Foxes' son Ash (Jason Schwartzman). Ash is somewhat of a typical inept son, but in this movie, what with its warm vibes and nice personality, I'm willing to forgive that. Mr. Fox also encounters Kylie (Wally Wolodarsky), who he uses on his clandestine late-night raids to the farms of the aforementioned "mean" farmers. After they do a lot of raiding, the farmers are forced to use some serious brute force.

From there, the plot goes off like the many directions of a tunnel dug by the foxes. But this is fine, due to the fact that it's a particularly fun film to experience, partly even because of the spontaneous feel in the air. The fact that the film eventually centers on something perhaps not totally satisfying is okay, because Anderson portrays it well. It could be said that the film is a little slight, despite being a long and engaging 87 minutes, but that's plot-related and is solved by Anderson and Baumbach's hilarious writing. Many members of the cast (notable exceptions being Clooney and Streep) have appeared in an Anderson film before, so it's authentically Wes. And, in my opinion, it barely tops "Where the Wild Things Are" in the whole "adult filmmaker makes children's film" craze that's spawned articles aplenty in the NY Times Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, etc. My personal favorite WA film is "The Darjeeling Limited" but this film surely is good. This is one of my few favorite animated films this year (alongside "Sita Sings the Blues"). You'll like it if you have a Andersonian sense of humor, and you know if you do. For me, it was a lot of good fun. A-

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I am happy to hear that this is one of your favorite animated movies of the year. I had so much fun reading this book to my kids, and I'm looking forward to the movie.