Fantastic Mr. Fox Directed by: Wes Anderson Cast: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Bill Murray Running Time: 1 hr 27 mins Rating: PG Release Date: November 25, 2009
PLOT: Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, and written for the screen by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach comes the tale of Mr. Fox (Clooney). He tried to change his ways, but still wants to steal chickens and his actions get all the animals in town in trouble, even his own family.
WHO'S IT FOR? This film has the rare chance to impress the parents and entertain the kids. If you're a Wes Anderson fan, you won't be disappointed. I cuss you not.
EXPECTATIONS: Rushmore is my favorite Anderson film, and I figured added voice work by Clooney and Streep couldn't possibly be a negative. Yeah, I was excited.
ACTORS: George Clooney as Mr. Fox: Very cussing good. From his trademark snicker and snap, to the way he boils it all down to being a wild animal, Clooney fits very well as a sly fox. Score: 9
Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox: We don't get much of Streep, but anytime Streep gives a stern lecture about the promises that were made ... we feel the guilt, right? I mean, it's Streep. Score: 7
Jaosn Schwartzman as Ash: I love the awkward cape/pajama outfit and everything else about Mr. Fox's odd son. His desire to impress his dad is something 99.9 percent of men can identify with and he's great comic relief. Score: 10
Eric Anderson as Kristofferson: He's perfect. At sports like whack bat (don't worry, Owen Wilson will explain the rules) Kristofferson is a natural. He's the envy of Ash and Mr. Fox can't get enough of the kid. What does he want? Just to do some yoga and maybe get the girl. Score: 8
Rest of Cast: I could have used more Murray as Badger. Michael Gambon shines as the owner of the cider plant, Franklin Bean, who is the main villain here. Rat (Willem Dafoe) steals the few scenes he is in. Score: 8
TALKING: At this point you are either terribly annoyed with my overuse of the word cuss, or you've seen the film and want to start cussing this and cussing that on your own. It's a great way to get away with the concept of swearing without actually doing it. Score: 9
SIGHTS: It's basic and beautiful. The slight hair movement on Mr. Fox is something I could watch for hours. On the other spectrum, Anderson doesn't bother to dive into elaborate animation at other times (like in the underground digging) and it works to create a sweet, simplistic tone to the film. He proves dumbing down animation has its benefits. Score: 8
SOUNDS: The Rolling Stones and Beach Boys make their presence heard, but it's Jarvis Cocker with his "Fantastic Mr. Fox AKA Petey's Song" that's a true hit, except in the opinion of Franklin Bean. Score:
BEST SCENE: It happens early, but you know I like cuss, so Mr. Fox and Badger having a cussing battling is terribly entertaining.
ENDING: It's a kid's book. So don't look for massive casualties. They ramp up with ending with a big rescue mission and everybody gets in on the act.
QUESTIONS: This isn't a question, but I actually liked that they didn't overexplain a world where some animals are simply animals (like dogs and chickens) and others are loaded with personality. I could question it, but I won't.
REWATCHABILITY: Yes, I'm seeing my niece and nephew in a little bit and I'd be really excited to sit down with them and watch this again. Though, I do have limited time, and I should probably spend my time doing something else instead. All things you didn't really need to know ... moving on.
Wes Anderson loves to play with structure and dialogue and he hasn't taken that away, he's added to his repertoire with this animated film. At it's core, it's a movie about being true to yourself and also trying to balance a family. Mr. Fox is a wild animal that gets everyone around him in trouble. Thankfully Anderson and the voice of Clooney give Mr. Fox enough humor and charm so we don't hate that he's put everyone he loves at risk for some apple cider and chickens. Anderson can tell a tale, and now he has proved a family can appreciate him as well.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10