Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Fantastic Mr. Fox
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Mild crude humour and animated violence

Director: Wes Anderson
Actors: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Michael Gambon, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Brian Cox, Jarvis Cocker, Wallace Wolodarsky, Eric Chase Anderson

Fantastic Mr. Fox is visionary director Wes Anderson's first animated film, utilizing classic handmade stop motion techniques to tell the story of the best selling children's book by Roald Dahl. Mr. and Mrs. Fox (George Clooney and Meryl Streep) live an idyllic home life with their son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and visiting young nephew Kristopherson (Eric Anderson). But after 12 years, the bucolic existence proves too much for Mr. Fox's wild animal instincts. Soon he slips back into his old ways as a sneaky chicken thief and in doing so, endangers not only his beloved family, but the whole animal community. Trapped underground and with not enough food to go around, the animals band together to fight against the evil Farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean - who are determined to capture the audacious, fantastic Mr. Fox at any cost.

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 87mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Pure wild animal craziness
by Simon Miraudo,

To say that Wes Anderson has a very particular, very identifiable film style is like saying that Woody Allen films often feature a neurotic protagonist. No duh. Anderson is perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable filmmakers working today, having emerged in the 1990’s alongside fellow indie auteurs Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze and Alexander Payne. Sadly, Anderson’s shtick has worn thin on the critical community lately, especially when compared to his peers who have each blended their offbeat comedy with melodrama, melancholy and blistering satire to the tune of multiple Academy Award nominations and victories. Perhaps his critics are just upset that Anderson seems intent on avoiding a challenge, having spent the past fifteen years creating visually and thematically identical fil...

To say that Wes Anderson has a very particular, very identifiable film style is like saying that Woody Allen films often feature a neurotic protagonist. No duh. Anderson is perhaps one of the most instantly recognisable filmmakers working today, having emerged in the 1990’s alongside fellow indie auteurs Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze and Alexander Payne. Sadly, Anderson’s shtick has worn thin on the critical community lately, especially when compared to his peers who have each blended their offbeat comedy with melodrama, melancholy and blistering satire to the tune of multiple Academy Award nominations and victories. Perhaps his critics are just upset that Anderson seems intent on avoiding a challenge, having spent the past fifteen years creating visually and thematically identical films. Consider then Fantastic Mr. Fox to be the equivalent of Anderson throwing down the gauntlet to all his detractors.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is the first cinematic adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s tale, in which a mischievous fox attempts to steal chickens, ducks and cider from some unwitting (and frankly unprepared) farmers. It was a cool little story; notice that I didn’t call it “sweet” or “charming” as I would normally refer to a book from my childhood. The hero of Fantastic Mr. Fox was no cuddly little critter. He was cheeky. He was mischievous. He was kind of a jerk. It should be noted that these three attributes can also be given to Max, the lead character of another childhood favourite, Where the Wild Things Are (also brought to the screen ingeniously by Jonze this year).

Therefore, it makes sense that Wes Anderson would bring the story of one of literature's “coolest” creations to the cinema. He may not have much experience in animated films (with the exception of some stop-motion animation in The Life Aquatic). However, he has forged a career out of “cool” characters; not just in terms of attitude, but also in their iciness. The characters in each of his films, from Bottle Rocket to The Darjeeling Limited, are mostly aloof, indifferent and filled with an air of entitlement (much like a certain Mr. Fox). However, each of them feel a certain obligation towards their family – whether they like it or not. These themes are perfectly interwoven into the cinematic narrative of Fantastic Mr. Fox (the book was adapted for the screen by Anderson and regular collaborator Noah Baumbach).

George Clooney voices Mr. Fox, which makes sense because he is essentially the Danny Ocean of the animal kingdom. His undeniable charisma is turned up to 11 here as he plays a sly and incomparable chicken thief. His wife (Meryl Streep) makes him promise to give up his dangerous profession and settle down with her, especially considering the imminent birth of their first child. He agrees, and for almost a decade he keeps his promise. But the mid-life crisis arrives and suddenly writing a daily column for the local paper doesn’t cut it anymore. His strange pre-teen son (Jason Schwartzman) hasn’t grown up the way Fox had hoped and their new home is proving to be more expensive than anticipated. In an attempt to reclaim some thrills and escape the daily doldrums, he plans “one last heist” (we’ve heard that before). The mark: dangerous farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean, whose delectable deposits of chickens, ducks and cider are too delicious to deny.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is oddly hilarious, enthralling and overwhelmingly heartwarming; it might even be the best film of Anderson's oeuvre. Part of the credit must not only go to the talented likes of Clooney, Streep and Schwartzman, but also Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe and Owen Wilson, who provide the vocal cords for some of the film's more memorable supporting characters. Special mention must go to acting amateurs Wallace Wolodarsky and Wes' brother Eric Chase Anderson. Wolodarsky nearly steals the show as Mr. Fox’s reluctant partner in crime Kylie (an opossum, of course). Eric Chase Anderson meanwhile gives a warm performance as the Fox family’s cousin Kristofferson.

Wes Anderson’s films are accused of feeling distant and cold, exemplified by his flattened mise-en-scene that continually keeps the viewer separated from his detached characters. I’m a big fan of Anderson’s style. However, his visual approach has often seemed like a unique trait without much deeper significance. Here, it highlights the storybook quality of the film. Each intricately orchestrated frame feels like a gloriously animated page of a picture book. Anderson has employed a team of ultra-talented stop-motion artists to achieve this (in painstaking manner no doubt). It’s not nearly as sleek as Henry Selick’s Coraline, but it isn’t supposed to be. The individual hairs on each of the animals and the gorgeous environment displayed in the film seem like the felt patches of a children’s book that are intended to be caressed against your cheek and held close to your chest.

You can pause any moment in an Alfred Hitchcock film and the captured frame will be so beautiful and so delicately composed that it would be worthy of hanging up as a work of art. Anderson achieves the same thing here, although the images conjured in Fantastic Mr. Fox would be better suited to the walls of your child’s bedroom. It is a film sure to be embraced by kids, adults and animals for generations to come.

4.5/5

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Member Reviews (46)

I want to hire/borrow this
Posted Saturday, 10 August 2013 See my other reviews
The kids loved it. Different to the usual animated film's so it held their attention.
Posted Tuesday, 19 March 2013 See my other reviews
Not for young kids, esp if you own chickens! Target audience is more for the young adult. Graphics a bit hard to watch.
Posted Tuesday, 12 March 2013 See my other reviews
Most boring movie for kids ever
Posted Wednesday, 10 October 2012 See my other reviews
I couldn't get intogther this movie & never watched the whole thing.
Posted Thursday, 20 September 2012 See my other reviews
Maz
says
One of those book-is-better movies, what a let down.
Posted Saturday, 21 July 2012 See my other reviews
Debbie
says
I would not recommend this for 'Kids'. It's an Adult script, not 'funny', too much 'talking' and goes on for too long. Might have Clooney's voice but it's not a 'fantastic' movie.
Posted Saturday, 30 June 2012 See my other reviews
Louisa
says
Very clever movie. Better on the second viewing - pick up lots of things you missed the first time.
Posted Saturday, 24 March 2012 See my other reviews
unfold
says
A wonderful stop-action animation that somehow manages to evoke a sense of childhood TV in the 1970's....all yellows, browns and oranges. A curious development of the Dahl original that adds to it in quirky ways and leaves you with an odd movie for all ages - but odd in a good way...a very Wes Anderson trademark. See it, with the expectation of seeing something different.
Posted Wednesday, 15 February 2012 See my other reviews
jeanine
says
My son thoroughlt enjoyed this movie
Posted Wednesday, 25 January 2012 See my other reviews
Lisa
says
A fantastic movie for primary school age children and above. Humour which appeals to adults and children. Fantastic animation.
Posted Monday, 16 January 2012 See my other reviews
Nadine
says
Sadly, we did not like this at all. It felt like it had no heart. A visual piece of stale bread when it should have been a visual feast. Felt like a production made purely to pump something out of a factory - for sales.
Posted Friday, 6 January 2012 See my other reviews
m
says
DVD didnt run, returned unwatched
Posted Friday, 23 December 2011 See my other reviews
Nikki Watts
says
This was one of the worst movies I have ever watched. My 11 year old could not stand it, however, my 5 year old did enjoy it. Unfortunately, I am not going to humour him by rewatching it even one more time let alone the usual 5 to 10 ;-)
Posted Sunday, 13 November 2011 See my other reviews
Amanda Greenwood
says
My 9 year old son loved this but unfortunatley I was a little dissappointed, he gave it 5 star rating, George Clooney was a good choice for the voice of Mr Fox. Overall great for the kids but not really one of those kids movies that are fun for adults :-)
Posted Thursday, 6 October 2011 See my other reviews
Anthony
says
Didn't enjoy it at all. Way too dark and not entirely appropriate for what is essentially a kids story. Some funny moments but very hard to like.
Posted Friday, 15 July 2011 See my other reviews
ericabrazel81
says
I was disappointed by a few things in the film. Firstly when they used the word Cuss everytime they wanted to swear really bugged me. Also, I do not agree with smoking in a film that was originally written as a book for children. I was very disappointed. I realise that this is rated PG, but I just think that writers should be more aware that animated films are quite often watched by children. Lucky mine was too young to understand
Posted Thursday, 30 June 2011 See my other reviews
lauryn138
says
rubbish,couldnt follow this and didnt enjoy it at all
Posted Wednesday, 15 June 2011 See my other reviews
Mickey G
says
Nice production, but not living up to the hype. Watch with kids.
Posted Saturday, 21 May 2011 See my other reviews
Carlene
says
I thought this film was..... fantastic! The claymation effects were fun and interesting. The characters and storyline totally lovable and I think I had a smile on my face from start to finish. AND it was very funny, what the cuss?!
Posted Thursday, 21 April 2011 See my other reviews
Karina
says
Quirky storyline and storytelling mode. Great for slightly older kids. Great graphics.
Posted Sunday, 10 April 2011 See my other reviews
RJWQLD
says
I couldn't get into it. I watched about 20 minutes, and found it uninspiring. It is not a children's cartoon, nor was it in my opinion and adult cartoon.
Posted Sunday, 3 April 2011 See my other reviews
phill
says
kids loved it
Posted Thursday, 24 March 2011 See my other reviews
Colleen
says
Took a while to get past thinking of George Clooney all the time, but once his voice faded into the character, I got really into the movie. It's a warm, fun movie, and didn't go quite the way I thought it was going to go (based on other Dahl books I've read). Wes Anderson has shown some real love for the story, and that comes through in every part of the movie.
Posted Sunday, 27 February 2011 See my other reviews
Rebecca
says
I found it a very weird movie on the whole. Much preferred the book. I guess you'd like it if eccentric, quirky films are your thing!
Posted Thursday, 17 February 2011 See my other reviews
Charlotte
says
It didn't hold our daughters' attention for very long and they found it quite boring. Perhaps if they had watched the whole movie they might have enjoyed it more but they ended up doing other things so we turned it off. The original story by Roald Dahl is great so it's a shame the movie didnt' have the same magic as the book.
Posted Monday, 17 January 2011 See my other reviews
Zoli
says
Excellent! Worth watching for all ages.
Posted Monday, 10 January 2011 See my other reviews
R.McEvoy
says
This was always a good book, but the movie is nowhere near as good. The movie is enjoyable and i love the animation it uses as its not used much anymore. Large cast of voices. This is really just oceans 11 but with animated animals.
Posted Sunday, 9 January 2011 See my other reviews
Matthew B.
says
A distinctive and well made film from director Wes Anderson, with the kind of quick witted dialogue we have become accustomed to in his films. Very well made with a great story about achieving despite perceptions about our capacity to do so.
Posted Saturday, 27 November 2010 See my other reviews
Lharry
says
Eldest daughter is avid reader and knew the book but wasn't overly interested in the movie adaptation.younger children lost interest and found it dull and left the room. maybe for the more mature audience (?)rather than the younger ones. I didn'' watch it all the way through either, "a bit long in the tooth" .
Posted Sunday, 24 October 2010 See my other reviews
G. Herkin
says
This is the old favourite tale of our child hoods told with the unique vision of director wes Anderson. The humour and style of wes Anderson has always been something that never really appealed to me, but in this case it really works, this is something different, something special. Wes has steered clear of the super high tech, high end animation styles that are prevalent in today’s feature animations, instead he has utilized a more traditional, handmade style, at first it was a little off putting as it seems a bit poorly done at times, but it came to be very effective giving the film a warmer, more organic feel that was echoed throughout the film also with the use of colours and beautiful settings. A fantastic change from the typical feature animation, one that we will hopefully see more of.
Posted Saturday, 23 October 2010 See my other reviews
karen
says
5,10 yr olds thought it was good , heard much laughter.
Posted Wednesday, 20 October 2010 See my other reviews
Ben H
says
We really enjoyed this, some good laughs, freaky looking foxes, more for the adults. Some of the themes would be inappropriate for young children.
Posted Tuesday, 19 October 2010 See my other reviews
Marg
says
Okay but not as good as I expected. Watched it until the end but struggled to stay interested at times.
Posted Friday, 15 October 2010 See my other reviews
kimbo
says
I loved it
Posted Thursday, 23 September 2010 See my other reviews
Aeris
says
NOT for children. Nothing like the book. Mr Fox (George Clooney) talks too much, plus we had to put the subtiltes on because we couldn't understand a word he said! Basically a load of Amercanised and modernised piece of 'cuss'.
Posted Wednesday, 22 September 2010 See my other reviews
E
says
Cute and different
Posted Thursday, 2 September 2010 See my other reviews
Ian
says
Not your usual animated film. Funny and enjoyable with some good actors backing it up.
Posted Friday, 6 August 2010 See my other reviews
K8
says
My 8 year old son walked out and said this movie isnt for kids!!! So I posted it straight back ...
Posted Wednesday, 28 July 2010 See my other reviews
Stephanie
says
My 8 year old daughter and I agreed that this was totally boring (even George Clooney's voice couldn't save it for me).
Posted Wednesday, 28 July 2010 See my other reviews
MK
says
This movies was a bit slow to start and stayed on the same level - therefore the girls
Posted Sunday, 18 July 2010 See my other reviews
Megan
says
I think the dialogue in this movie was far too advanced for the audience it is targeted at. I watched this with my young niece and nephew and it failed to hold any of our attentions - they fell asleep and I surfed the net. The animation was very impressive, and the story took me back to when I read the book as a child. Read the book to your kids instead of watching this movie, do the voices and make it exciting!
Posted Friday, 16 July 2010 See my other reviews
Guy D
says
As a Roald Dahl story, it if dark, funny and touching. The plot a little complex for younger kids. Its good, but not great. I found George Clooney's voice distracting.
Posted Thursday, 15 July 2010 See my other reviews
paulnjules
says
noy ideal for under 5 kids mildly amusing
Posted Sunday, 4 July 2010 See my other reviews
Andrew
says
Really enjoyed the style of animation used - a refreshing change from digital cartoons. Clooney is perfect as Mr Fox and enjoyed picking up some of the other familiar voices. There is so much going on in this film, lots to look at and take in. Some very funny sequences and lines as well. Very enjoyable.
Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 See my other reviews
Darak
says
great move to watch - boring start but with great finish
Posted Friday, 25 June 2010 See my other reviews