Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Fantastic Mr. Fox: A Hot Box of Awesome


I'm pretty sure the title of this says it all. There's not a whole lot that could have gone wrong here, but thankfully, Wes Anderson has insured that almost everything goes right. I think I initially gave this 4 stars. With more thought, it's really more of a 4.5 star movie.

In case you're curious, this is the Wes Anderson movie based on the 1970 Roald Dahl children's novel. In my opinion, Roald Dahl's work was never questionable; it was always delightful. I have a long history with Mr. Dahl, going all the way back to 3rd grade when my dad and I read Matilda. At the time, I had never heard him laugh so hard. That's what happens when you're reading Roald Dahl. He's the literary equivalent of a chenille blanket and a roaring fire on a snowy winter night. Thankfully, Anderson captures that feeling, visually here.

If there's one word that can describe Anderson as a director it might be meticulous. I can't say for sure because it's been a while since we've sat down and had a chat. (okay, we've never sat down and had a chat, but I have IMAGINED how that chat might go) It's the sense you get while watching his movies. Every scene is literally crafted, every color palette specifically chosen, the dialogue full of quips and snarky one-liners, but always with a surprisingly heartwarming result.

It's no different here. In some ways, I think the animated world might be an exact fit for Anderson. It allows for precision and detail that sometimes can't be achieved with us fallible humans. The stop motion, old-school animation seems like the perfect fit for Anderson as well and a genius fit with the 1970s gold and orange palette he's working with.

The bad guys are thoroughly bad, especially Bean, the meanest of the meanies and even though they are technically thieves, those wily foxes manage to have us rooting and dancing along with them straight up until the end. The vocal work by an all-star cast (George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Michael Gambon, Willem Defoe just to name a few) is top notch with dialogue to match. I have to say, Rat (Willem Defoe) might be my favorite. His momentary ode to West Side Story resonated with me and his sneaky moves are only matched by Defoe's sneaky, shadowed voice. Luckily, the only real story (nature v. corporate land grabbing) isn't something where you have to think of which side you're on. With the morals out of the way, Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox is fantastic indeed. HOT BOX!!

4.5 Fox Tails

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