Fantastic (quite literally) Mr. Fox
Released about a year ago, FMF (from author Roald Dahl) was critically acclaimed and nominated for the Best Animated Feature at the Oscars (it lost to Pixar’s UP). From the obscure and kooky director Wes Anderson, (famous for his more well known works such as The Royal Tenenbaums, the Darjeeling Limited, and Rushmore), comes his latest and most different picture. Wes Anderson has a mise en scene that is so unique that nobody can describe his style, so, obviously he tries to incorporate this into his first ever animated film. The film itself is stop motion, which means through the use of dolls and other types of materials, the director takes stills, frame by frame, each time adjusting the models. Eventually all the frames are edited together, like you would a flip book, and it plays out just like any other movie. With the helpful eye of Wes Anderson, you get a “Fantastic” movie. The movie follows the mischievous antics of Mr. Fox, an animal who hates being an animal. As he learns that his wife is pregnant, he vows to quit his thievery. Years later, after hating being underground, he decides to move into a tree. This is where the story line actually starts. As Fox looks across the river, he sees the tyrannical farmers, Boggis, Bunce, and Beans, and their expanding farms. Fox decides to stop them. I don’t want to summarize the whole movie, but for the rest of the brief 88 minute film, you are hooked into Fox’s quest for peace. Fox is voiced by the ever amazing George Clooney, his wife, by the Oscar nominated Meryl Streep, their son Ash, by the hilarious Jason Schwartzman, and a couple of voice cameo’s such as Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson (who is good friends with Anderson and co wrote and also starred several of his pictures). One of the unique aspects about this movie is the soundtrack. Through a combination of composed and contemporary music, you get a cheerful and upbeat soundtrack, which flows well with the plot and the style of Anderson. A funny item I noticed while viewing this, is that when you are focused on one group of characters, Anderson is able to throw in a scenario between another groups of characters in the background. This adds an amusing touch to the movie, something that had to be cleverly done. A film like this features a number of genres, it combines, or transcends them into a coherent story. It features comedy, action and adventure, drama, and even a little romance. The movie itself seems like an allegory for the companies such as Wal-Mart, which are slowly expanding, regardless of what gets in their way. Being released at Thanksgiving, the target audience of this movie was for families. It is not like one of those crappy kids movies like Spy Kids or whatever, but it is a movie that adults can enjoy as much as the kids. It’s funny, the first time I watched it in theatres, I wasn’t very satisfied after it, but several months later as I watched it on an airplane, it slowly became one of more favorite animated movies. Now some people will probably bash the zaniness or at times intangible plot, this is because Anderson’s movies are significantly different than those of other directors. Anderson has truly made a mark on stop motion movies, but the funny thing is that FMF was his first attempt at something like that, and that is a truly fantastic feat.