Thursday, 21 January 2010

A Few Words on The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, as the name indicates, is a story about a fox; a fantastic one. After his wife’s pregnancy Fox retires from the dangerous world of thievery to become a journalist. The film from a superficial standpoint focuses on the fox and his intimations with his fellow animals, but it is not difficult to see it in a larger sense. Fox questions his place in the world as his wife urges him to be more responsible and his son yearns for acceptance. These themes are glaringly human, and these are the idiosyncrasies that make The Fantastic Mr. Fox succeed.
The animation here is not the typical 2D or 3D form but a stop-motion format that is almost offensively non-realistic. Narrative wise, The Fantastic Mr. Fox is not faultless; although the first half could claim to be. These first forty minutes are outstanding in their exuberance and a cause of profound delight [oxymoron?], but towards the middle and end it falters. The dialogue is still spoken at breakneck pace. In fact it is in the faultier second half that Streep in particular shines as Fox’s wife. However, the story – one already low on actual plot – seems to be spread too thin. Nevertheless, the potential crisis is averted for the satisfying end-result which manages to be cool and sentimental all at once.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a strange case. The themes would most likely hold more profundity for adults and the dialogue may go over the head of even the most lucid children but there is a pervasive sense of juvenility about it all. As the credits rolled I could not call it my favourite film – animated or otherwise – of the year. But, for all its adult imitations it was the one that most elicited those elusive memories of childhood.


thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

I really, honestly, do not like Wes Anderson films or even the man himself whenever I hear him speak.

Coincidentally, last night I was listening to Mark Kermode reviewing this and claiming it as a bit of a travesty because it's a book that many people remember from their childhood and he felt Anderson had turned it into a 'glass of red wine, pipe and slippers musing on things he thinks are important'. He called it 'incredibly smug', 'self-indulgent' and a variety of other none too pleasant things.

For all that though, I'm actually quite looking forward to it. I see it as a bit of a reimagining of the book rather than a direct translation - it just happens to have been marketed (wrongly) as a straight children's film of a children's book.

Nice review, it's out on DVD here at the start of March.

anahita said...

my mum took my little brother to see this (I was in oxford otherwise I would have) and he loved it - he's a massive fan of roald dahl. just thought I'd give you a kiddie's perspective hehe. My mum really doesn't like george clooney though, when I asked her how it was, she just gave me a are-you-fecking-joking look :D

Univarn said...

I really enjoyed this. It definitely has its faults, but I found it to be pure family entertainment (depending on how you like your *cuss*) :). Great review!

The Mad Hatter said...

I absolutely loved this film, and appreciated someone in Hollywood trying something a little different to tell an animated story.

The moment of Mr. and Mrs. Fox having a heart-to-heart in front of the waterfall might be one of the most beautiful things I saw all year.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

thistimeitwill... confession: i've not seen any of his films before, so i can't say. definitely worth a watch though.

anahita i am so with your mother on not liking clooney:) but he was good here, probably because i couldn't see him.

univarn i loved the running gag of the "cuss" word.

mad hatter the best parts of the film were mr and mrs fox having it out. streep was perfect here.