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Movie: Fantastic Mr. Fox

A 2009 stop-motion animated film based on the Roald Dahl children's novel of the same name.

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The Fantastic Film

  • Jan 31, 2011
Boggis, Bunce and Bean
One Fat One Short One Lean
These Terrible Crooks
So Different in Looks
But Nonetheless Equally Mean

One of the things I've always enjoyed particularly about Roald Dahl adaptations is that there is usually something magical about them.  Most of his books... at least the ones I've read are books you read and think to yourself, "They couldn't do it as a movie."  Admittedly I'd never read The Fantastic Mr. Fox, but I knew from the get go that it was Roald Dahl.  His books are wonderful books that are generally made into more unusual films that, for the most part, may not follow the book so well but usually end up being fairly good films in and of themselves.  I'm sure someone will be gracious enough to leave a comment to talk about how it compares to the book but I care little for that sort of thing.  What I care about is that not only did I enjoy The Fantastic Mr. Fox... it is a film that I'm sure many of you still have not yet seen.

George Clooney and Meryl Streep are the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Fox.  Mr. Fox is the star of the show, of course, but it begins with the two of them robbing a chicken coup.  Things are going swimmingly until Mr. Fox's curiosity gets the best of him and gets himself and Mrs. Fox trapped in a cage.  At this time she informs her husband that she's pregnant and that if they get out of the trap alive... she wants him to find another profession.

Two fox years later (which apparently equates to 12 for them) Mr. and Mrs. Fox live in a hole with their son Ash.  Mr. Fox now writes for the newspaper and he's miserable.  He doesn't want to live in a hole because it makes him feel poor and he'd like to buy different property.  But there are more things introduced and more things this Fantastic Fox will face.  He ultimately decides that he would like to get different property and does so.  And when he does he spies three farms filled with lots of goodies for the taking.  There's Boggis's chicken farm, Bunce's Geese farm and Bean's specially brewed cider.  All good stuff.  But what of that promise he made to his wife?  That doesn't matter anymore.  You know why?  Because he's a wild animal and that's what wild animals do.  They live on instinct and their own abilities. He gets more when he bargained for, however, when he realizes that Boggis, Bunce and Bean will not stand down that easily.  What begins as a "Last Job," turns into an all out war.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a stop motion animated film.  One where there has clearly been a lot of work put into it.  The look and feel of the movie can be a little odd to deal with at first.  It's not typical in the slightest but it is inviting and gives you a sense of what you're getting into.  It's actually quite charming, really.  Watching the animations.  There are times you think it might be claymation or even CGI but make no mistake... it's definitely stop motion. 

What really makes the movie likable is the cast.  Not really the voice actors (although you have to give credit as Wes Anderson seems to be the only guy who can get Bill Murray to come out of his cave for a bit) but rather the characters themselves.  Mr. Fox is cunning, clever and stubborn.  Mrs. Fox is smart and intelligent.  We're also introduced to Mr. Fox's son Ash who spends a lot of the movie trying to prove he's an athelete (he is clearly the outcast of the film here) and then there's Kristoferson, an athletic fox from the mother's side of the family.  But there is also a Badger to help out and an opossum.  While they rightfully don't nearly as much development, that's okay... The Fantastic Mr. Fox is mostly a kids movie and for the most part that typically means that character development isn't quite as important making well developed characters.  With the films short running time it wastes no time really jumping into things.  And through watching the characters we get to know them even without them saying too many words.  To we need to be told that Ash is trying to win the approval of his father and others?  Need we be told that Mr. Fox is clever or that Mrs. Fox is intelligent.  Certainly not.  And through it's cast there's also a lot of quick witted lines and a lot of fun moments.

In particular I really liked the little rhyme for Boggis,, Bunce and Bean.  It's the opening short poem at the top.  But what's better is that they work it into a nice little song that works well with the soundtrack, which is also nothing short of fantastic.  As you watch you can tell that not only are the actors really getting into it (I would LOVE to have seen George Clooney and Bill Murray snarl at each in real life) and that they're all having fun. 

More than that the movie also has a way of appealing to adults.  The language is quite straight forward but one of the movies best gags is that each time a character swears they simply say the word "cuss."  As in "Are you cussing with me?" Or "You scared the cuss out of us!" or "what the cuss was I thinking?"  Stuff like that.  It's funny but what I love about the bit is that the characters do it naturally.  It doesn't come off as censorship at all, it comes off as though it's all quite natural.  Much of the comedy is also great, with a lot of impeccable timing, quick witted dialog and a lively cast to deliver them.  The end result is a film that's charming and does a lot of good storytelling. 

There are a couple of objectionable moments, but what Roald Dahl work does not have something like that?  There are some moments that are a little darker than others.  Mr. Fox getting his tail blown off, for instance or the rat inside Bean's cellar who seems to make a reference to Mr. Fox's wife having had quite a deviant past, but I'm sure these aren't too bad for parents of children.

I can't tell anyone how it compares to the book because I haven't read it just yet.  But if I do I'm sure that the movie is very different in many ways and fairly similar in others.  But I'm going to bet on mostly that it's different.  But who knows.  What I do know, is that regardless of the book turned out... the film is absolutely joyful and marvelous.  It's also just all around fun.  The kind of movie that appeals to children and an adults inner child as well.

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April 19, 2011
I really liked this one too. It's interesting how many different Dahl books have been turned into films in different mediums (live-action, animation, and now stop-motion animation) and yet there really haven't been that many films made out of his books in comparison with a lot of other popular children's authors. For me, I think the mere fact that this was in stop-motion animation and had such a quirky and edgy sense of humor made it fun. By the way, thanks for putting that annoyingly catchy song back in my head.
January 31, 2011
Honestly, I haven't seen the entire film and saw the 2nd half in HBO and I really liked it. This was just amazing...I skimmed your review since I have since bought the BD and I will be back to read further. I see you have quite a few new reviews, I'll be back to read them tomorrow. Time for me to hit the sack... early day tomorrow at work. :( Thanks for the review!!
More Fantastic Mr. Fox (movie) reviews
review by . January 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
He Truly Is a Fantastic Fox!
      When I first saw previews about this film, I was unimpressed. I had read the book a long time ago when I was a child, but I didn't recall anything about the story. So, why would I be interested in the movie? Plus, the previews were confusing and unimpressive, except for the stop motion animation, which I wasn't sure I would enjoy in a full length feature. Oh, how wrong I was! This movie was one of the most enjoyable family films I have seen in a long time, and …
review by . March 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
  Fantastic Mr. Fox is the crazy story of Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his many wild adventures. Back in the old days he and his wife, Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) would steal birds for a living, and were good at it too. Needless to say though, the fox world was a very targeted species by humans. But on his last job Mr. Fox discovers that he is going to be a father, and this convinces him that his days are over being a wild animal, and he settles down to focus on the family. However, one day when …
review by . January 31, 2010
Just Couldn't Stop Laughing at this Stop-Motion Gem.
It's always a good sign when you're an adult in a movie marketed for kids and you find yourself laughing louder than the restless children in the audience. Albeit, it's a tad embarrassing too, but a good sign for the movie none the less. It's that funny.      It might even be more embarrassing to admit that I don't think I ever read the book in my youth. I get the feeling that this is one of those stories that every kid has read. But somehow Mr. Fox got away from me then. Thankfully, …
review by . December 01, 2009
   "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is a long way from film verite, or anything like it, but it is great fun, full double entendres,   very entertaining and  full of clever commentary about greed, materialism, real estate, big money, power and class warfare. If you would like to keep digging and stretching for metaphor and symbolism, you might even dig out homophobia, racism and military  hardware.   George Clooney and Meryl Streep, as the primary voices, …
Quick Tip by . April 03, 2010
posted in The Family Room
A funny film based on Roald Dahl's fantasy story for kids. Sophisticated, quirky, & a little dark for a kid's movie.
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Fantastic Mr. Fox is a 2009 stop-motion animated film based on the Roald Dahl children's novel of the same name. Released in the autumn of 2009, it was produced by Regency Enterprises and Indian Paintbrush, and features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray. It is the first animated film directed by Wes Anderson, and the first stop-motion animated film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Development on the project began in 2004 as collaboration between Anderson and Henry Selick (who worked with Anderson on the 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) under Revolution Studios. In 2006 Revolution folded, Selick left to direct Coraline, and work on the film moved to 20th Century Fox. Production began in London in 2007.
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Director: Wes Anderson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family
Release Date: November 25, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Roald Dahl, Wes Anderson
Runtime: 87 minutes
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
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