Published Nov 19, 2009Let me just get this out of the way: Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox is certainly aptly titled, as the perfect word to describe it is simply "fantastic." This stop-motion Roald Dahl adaptation about man versus animal honours its roots and broadens its ideas into a contemporary family classic that's both insightful yet still playful. In his first foray into animation, Anderson doesn't bend to the style but rather turns it inside out to become the perfect complement to his quirky, expressive nature.
Despite being fantastic, Mr. Fox (voiced by a spry George Clooney) has gotten himself and his neighbours into a hole they can't get out of. After promising his wife, Mrs. Fox (a sly Meryl Streep), that he will never steal again after she announces she's pregnant, Mr. Fox deliberately breaks that promise and angers the biggest farmers in town: Boggis, Bunce and Bean. The farmers drive the animals underground and they must come together to dig their way out. The battle is on and the delight Anderson is having with it all draws the viewer as deeply into the depths of the film as the tunnels dug on screen.
While Anderson, along with The Squid and the Whale writer Noah Baumbach, infuse the screenplay with adult themes aplenty, from resisting your natural instincts to rising above the hand that feeds you, they create a pace that is delicate and quiet but never so much so that younger viewers will lose interest.
Under Anderson's always mindful and expansive eye, Fantastic Mr. Fox is as cunning and as sharp as its namesake animal. It is the film's unexpected charm though that will make it Anderson's most endearing work. (Searchlight)