Wes Anderson still fantastic

Article By: Derek Anderson

Wes Anderson has done it again, this time in a stop-motion animated take on Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (20th Century Fox, 2009). The classic childhood book was brought to life on the big screen with the innovative mind of Anderson and expanded on, making the story original to the director.

Mr. Fox, voiced by George Clooney, is a chicken thief in his early life. He is crafty in his art of thievery and risks his life to pull off his line of work. But when his wife, Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep), tells him she’s pregnant and makes him promise to give up his stealing, he puts his old life behind him to start a new one. Flashing forward, Mr. Fox’s life has changed with a son and a job at the local newspaper, but his desire to steal still burns brightly. He decides to take the risk of stealing from the meanest farmers in the area, Bean, Boggis, and Bunce. Pushing the farmers too far, they react to Mr. Fox’s thievery and chaos ensues. The three farmers work together to try to take down the crafty fox and his family. Together, Mr. Fox, his family, and the neighborhood animals must fight for their lives as the farmers destroy their homes and livelihood.

Although the movie made an older-fashioned stop-motion animation, it worked incredibly well for the film and story. It preserved the childlike essence of Dahl’s book and kept the audience attentive and alert to the wild and crazy things that happen throughout. The story is told well, and stays true to the general idea of Dahl’s story, but has it’s extended subplots for different characters, giving the audience more to think about. An alternate ending from the actual story is fused into the movie as well, but is an excellent expansion on the concept of Dahl’s original.

From the casting, to the animation, and the quirky humor to the serious situations, Anderson’s signature techniques are found all over the film. He has a tendency to keep the same cast for his movies, such as Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Willem Dafoe, who work well every time, and work equally as well in this film. Clooney and Streep also pull off amazing performances, their roles fitting perfectly to their styles. Clooney’s father-like voice acting seemed to fit him perfectly for this project.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a universal film as well. An older crowd may enjoy it more for its subtle humor, but a younger audience could enjoy it just as much. Anderson substitutes all profanity with the word “cuss,” which is funny for adults and good for children. Although the movie is based on a children’s book, the directing and extension to the story portrays deeper meanings of family, community, personal discovery, fear and impulse.

Quirky, fun, and clever, Fantastic Mr. Fox has run through theaters like the thief he is, staying under the radar but ever-so-present. If given the chance, see the film and see the crazy stop-motion world of Anderson’s creative mind. It will leave fans saying, “Fantastic Mr. Fox is real cussing good!”