Fantastic Mr. Fox
Based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl (who also wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Fantastic Mr. Fox tells the story of a fox who promises to turn from his crafty ways of stealing chickens from local farmers. But, hey, he’s a fox! And foxes are, by nature, crafty. So needless to say, Mr. Fox is soon reverts back to his old ways, driving the local farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean to distraction. Wonderfully voiced by George Clooney, Mr. Fox is as smooth and charming as Clooney’s character in Ocean’s 11.
Director Wes Anderson brings the story to the screen using the painstaking animated process of stop-motion. A scene is set up and photographed with puppets, then they are moved slightly, shot again, and finally it’s all compiled. Unlike other computer generated animated movies in which the characters aim to look real, Fr. Fox looks odd and jerky. Rather than detract from the overall effect, this process contributes to the film’s considerable charm. Mr. Fox is high on creativity and originality. Composer Alexandre Desplat’s clever score adds greatly to the effect of the film. In a year with many good animated films, Mr. Fox is unique. It’s like nothing else out there.
Mr. Fox is happily married to Mrs. Fox (voiced by Meryl Streep). Their son Ash wants to be like his father, but instead, is clumsy and odd. Ash is jealous when his dad brings his nephew Kris with him on his capers, leaving Ash at home. Determined to rid themselves of the raiding foxes, Boggis shoots Mr. Fox’s tail off, then, adding insult to injury, wears it around his neck. Mr. Fox organizes all the wild animals to wage battle against the farmers. Each animal uses its own nature, under the direction of the naturally crafty fox. In its own cheerfully wacky way, Mr. Fox celebrates unity in diversity, family, and the common good. Everyone is valued. Even Ash discovers the value of his difference, and receives the attention he craves from his dad, for his valuable assistance.
If there are any readers who still think of animated films as kid stuff, Fantastic Mr. Fox is further evidence that adults may enjoy them as much, if not more, than children. One example is the way it deals with adult language. Whenever a character is upset, he or she says “Cuss!” rather than a four letter word. It’s funny and effective. Perhaps some sophisticated adult profanity-laced films could take a hint.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is a rollicking good time extolling Dominican values. Each one, using his/her unique gifts, is needed for the common good. As fantastic as Mr. Fox is, he can’t outfox the farmers on his own.
Tom Condon, OP