Monday, November 16, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox is, well, fantastic...

Sometimes it's hard to believe all the hype, but on this occasion I can safely say that Fantastic Mr. Fox is fabulously fantastic fun.
Fantastic Mr Fox film poster
It's the second movie in as many months where unconventional directors have been given the carte blanche to adapt beloved children's stories and in my humble opinion this film is so much more fun and successful than Spike Jonzes' Where The Wild Things Are.
Fantastic Mr Fox movie poster
Although I found that film to be visually stunning, with a stand-out child actor, it left me feeling a bit 'empty' and depressed, whereas Wes Anderson's adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic 1970 children's book is funny, charming, full of wit, clever, heart-warming and delivers a feel-good factor worthy of the original story.

Fantastic Mr. Fox on display at ArcLight Hollywood cinema
Animation movie set from Fantastic Mr Fox
More well known for quirky films like The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, you could say that Wes Anderson is used to making movies that turn people into cartoon caricatures of themselves, so maybe it's no surprise he turned his hand to animation.
Fantastic Mr Fox poster
Even though he humanises the characters, from suit-wearing and yoga practicing foxes to their aspirations of wanting to move up the property ladder from an underground fox hole to a more spacious tree, he also takes pains to make sure we know that they are in fact wild animals, be it the hilarious way they eat food, to Mr. Fox snapping a chicken's neck with one bite.
Fantastic Mrs Fox poster
The movie is of course helped greatly by the voice talent. George Clooney, with all his Ocean's Eleven connotations and the fact he has a super smooth voice is the perfect choice to play Mr. Fox, who had sworn to his wife he'd forsaken his chicken stealing ways, but can't resist trying 'just one more' job.
The Rotter Fantastic Mr Fox poster
With Meryl Streep as his wife, also perfectly cast and Jason Schwartzman is great as his moody teenage son 'Ash', constantly seeking his father's approval and to live up to his reputation.

There's also Bill Murray as 'Badger', Owen Wilson as 'Coach Skip', Michael Gambon as 'Franklin Bean' (one of the neighbouring farmers out for Mr. Fox's blood) and a cameo by Jarvis Cocker as 'Petey' to enjoy, all accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack including the likes of The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys.
The Lookout Fantastic Mr Fox poster
There's a wonderfully 'old-school' feel to the stop-motion animation which gives it an edgy quality, it's not all pristine and perfect.

In addition the cinematography with camera angles and distance shots much more reminiscent of a live-action film, rather than traditional close-up animation, gives the movie it's 'adult' quality, without having to resort to hyper-violence or too much angst. Roald Dahl stories always were a bit dark anyway, so this type of filmmaking seems perfectly suited for his tales.
The Muscle Fantastic Mr Fox poster
So the general premise of the movie has Mr. Fox trying to outwit his mean and wealthy farming neighbours, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, and steal the food out from under their noses. As with all the best laid plans, nothing is ever that simple and hilarity ensues.
The Whistle Blower Fantastic Mr Fox poster
I give this original take on a classic children's story four fantastic **** stars. The great thing about the movie is that you can enjoy it as an adult with friends and also if you want to watch it as a family film with your kids.

You can see more great images and short video clip of the stop-motion models and Science Lab set from the Fantastic Mr. Fox at my Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props blog.

Actual stop-motion puppets from Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fantastic Mr Fox film animation models
There's lots of great movies coming out now that we're heading into the holiday season, so I can't wait to see 2012, Pirate Radio (aka The Boat That Rocked in the UK), Precious and The Blind Side to name a few.

I'm sure I'll be sharing my thoughts on them soon...

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