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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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Fantastic is an Appropriate Adjective Here

  • Mar 9, 2011

I’m not going to pretend I went into The Fantastic Mr. Fox with expectations in any feasible direction.  I never read the classic book on which this film is based but had vague knowledge of the book’s existence as “one of the other books from the guy who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach”.

Next up comes the realization that the film adaptation was the result of director Wes Anderson’s creative vision; a style that, love it or hate it, is undeniably unique.  With past films like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, about the only common thread I could find was appearances by Bill Murray (and in that regard The Fantastic Mr. Fox continues the tradition).

This is the story of one Mr. Fox and the conflict within him between being a responsible family “man” and the chicken-stealing wild-ways of his past.

Despite making a promise to his wife that the life of thievery is a thing of the past, Mr. Fox decides, as part of his mid-life crisis, that he must try "just one more raid" on a trio of intolerant farmers (Boggis, Bunce and Bean).  The sad reality with recovering addiction is that “just one more” easily becomes a returning lifestyle and Mr. Fox realizes this only after it’s too late.

And while the action serves as the catalyst to move the plot along, the core of this tale is satirical family life (personified through animals) of Mr. Fox (George Clooney) wife, Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep), their son, Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and visiting nephew Kristofferson Silverfox (Eric Chase Anderson).  It is this dynamic that provides the film’s greatest charm by staying close to the moral lessons of the original tome coupled to Anderson’s trademark off-brand wit and style.

And in keeping with the Wes Anderson brand of style, the visuals, this one forgoes fancy Pixar/ DreamWorks-esque 3D computer animatics for traditional stop-motion technique. And not unlike Aardman’s works with Wallace and Gromit or Chicken Run, there is undeniable charm to be found in this method.  Once the viewer adjusts to the intermittent rhythms and the scruffy (almost ultra-realistic) look of the model textures, the wit, beauty and emotional undercurrents contained here are stunningly apparent.

The pacing, heck even the themes and satire are undeniably adult oriented however.  Does this mean foul language, sexual themes, or gore? Absolutely not.  Anderson’s work is an all-age friendly class act all the way.  However, it’s definitely still debatable as to just which age will make the most of the experience here.  The visuals may be strong enough to keep the kiddies involved but it’s the sociological and family interrelationships that really define this piece.

Entire case studies have been conducted in effort of defining the various themes and underlying issues that author Roald Dahl confronted in his writing and many of these ideals transfer brilliantly into the film: Concepts like our inherent inability to ever fully let go of our youth or the battle between industrialism (represented here by the farmers) and nature.

The vocal work is spectacular as is expected from such a deep cast and the Alexandre Desplat soundtrack makes use of an excellently appropriate selection of pop music.

In all it’s tough to come away from this film without some appreciation of Anderson’s ability to combine the classic material with his own sensibilities.  And while his past films may suggest this as a trait that can go either way, rest assured that Fantastic Mr. Fox retains the very best of what Wes Andersen has to offer: Intelligent wit, impeccable timing, and just enough homage to early-filmmaking techniques to be labeled charming.

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March 20, 2011
I just loved this film! I haven't seen an animated piece this well done in a LONG time! Excellent review!
March 31, 2011
You have great taste Adrianna, I went into this one with fairly low expectations but came away really impressed. Glad I added it to the collection for sure.
April 11, 2011
Thanks so much! You as well. I went in with fairly low expectations as well. What a pleasant surprise!
March 10, 2011
Another great review, I liked this one as well.
March 31, 2011
Thanks FM_A. You all set for Tangled?
April 01, 2011
Yes indeed
March 10, 2011
I really liked the movie! I also enjoyed the dialogue. It sucks that I saw this for the first time near the end (at a friend's house) that it somewhat ruined the experienced when I saw it again. It is to be commended that it managed to hold up. Thanks, Jay!!
March 10, 2011
My pleasure Mr. William. Really glad I added this one to my collection. Worthy indeed!
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 . January 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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About this movie


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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