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.