Movies:Movie Reviews:Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Photo: Photo Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Director(s): Wes Anderson

Writer(s): Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach

Cast: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson and Jarvis Cocker

Reviewed by: Ian Evans on

Release Date(s)

Nov 25, 2009 - Wide

The Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, follows the life of Mr. and Mrs. Fox, their son Ash and their visiting nephew Kristofferson. Mr. Fox had a wilder life before he became a father and now he begins to feel the urge of his chicken thief days. The same audacity that made him go after three large farms will need to serve him and his community when the farmers launch an all-out war against them.

Directed by Wes Anderson and written by Anderson and Noah Baumbach, Fantastic Mr. Fox uses traditional stop-motion animation to bring the story to life. The use of stop-motion puppets brings an immediacy and warmth to the story that is sometimes lacking in the current trend of computer animation. It ties in perfectly with the quirky humour that Anderson is known for.

The film’s voice cast is a stellar line-up: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, and Jarvis Cocker. Each one brings their talents to bear in breathing life into their characters.

Mr. Fox is like a fur-covered Danny Ocean, plotting with his opossum pal Kylie to perpetrate a huge scheme against three mean local farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, so it’s only fitting that he’s voiced by George Clooney. Clooney’s always given off that air of easy charm and it just what Mr. Fox exudes too as he rallies the other animals to his cause even after his actions have caused the farmers to come after them.

Mrs. Fox is the moral center of the family, understanding her husband’s primal instincts but also knowing that he must grow past them as he’s now a father. Voiced by Meryl Streep, she exudes the warmth and inner strength of the character. You can’t help but feel the love she has for her family.

While the settings are sometimes flat, like a picture book come to life, the relationships show many layers. The family is wowed by the physical prowess of the visiting Kristofferson (Eric Anderson), but the feelings expressed by Ash (Jason Schwartzman) show all the doubts shown by a pre-teen child. Am I strong enough? Fast enough? Smart enough? Do I live up to my father’s expectations? So while there’s a banquet of action happening with the father’s story, the younger members of the tale provide an interesting side dish.

Beyond anything else, the style, wit, and technique of Fantastic Mr. Fox is a refreshing change from what we’re currently seeing on screen. Funny, intelligent and whimsical, the film is different enough to spur on conversations after seeing it and hopefully persuade a few parents to expand, or let’s face it — start, the reading habits of their children. A feast for the senses, Fantastic Mr. Fox has something for the whole family and is, quite simply, fantastic.