Sunday, June 19, 2016

Movie Review: "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (2009)

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Movie"Fantastic Mr. Fox"
Director: Wes Anderson
Year: 2009
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

After Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) get caught in a fox trap, she tells him she's pregnant and makes him vow to give up stealing and to find new safer line of work. After a couple of years as a newspaper man and with his son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) hitting his fox-teens, Mr. Fox begins to get restless and wants something more from life, so he decides to go back to stealing. He starts taking stuff from three mean farmers named Bunce (Hugo Guinness), Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), and Bean (Michael Gambon). This sets the farmers on an obsessive quest to kill Mr. Fox at any and all cost. Now, Mr. Fox has to find a way to get him and all his animal friends out of the mess he created.

Wes Anderson directs his adaptation of Roald Dahl's "Fantastic Mr. Fox." We had tried once before to watch this film, but for some reason, we didn't connect with it and never even finished it. Now, many years later, we are so glad we did. This is a wonderful stop-motion animated feature that proves to compliment itself very well to Wes Anderson's unique visual style. It boasts an utterly fantastic voice cast, featuring George Clooney as the titular Fantastic Mr. Fox, Meryl Streep as his wife, Felicity Fox, and Michael Gambon as the sinister farmer Franklin Bean. It also has some of Wes Anderson's stand-by favorites like Jason Schwartzman as Mr. Fox's son Ash, Bill Murray as Mr. Fox's lawyer Badger, Owen Wilson as Coach Skip, and Willem Dafoe as Rat. Together, this merry band of misfits have many adventures involving shot off tails, digging tunnels, sock burglar masks, cider, and a rabid beagle. Mr. Fox and his friends must find a way to outsmart Bean and two other farmers named Bunce, voiced by Hugo Guinness, and Boggis, voiced by Robin Hurlstone, before they are ruined and starve to death.

There are many changes from Roald Dahl's book in the screenplay, which is written by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. Because of this, the movie feels much more light and whimsical than Dahl's typical and expected dower, bleak, depressing vision of the world. However, just because it's lighter in tone and context doesn't mean it's all hunky dory as there are still many thematically dark elements to this story. After all, three farmers are trying to kill most of the characters in this line up. It does manage to keep Dahl's overall spirit of the tale while having its own very distinct, very special feel that only Wes Anderson is able to achieve. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is a beautifully made film with gorgeous looking sets and lots of personality. The colors and the character design are simply outstanding, but we expect no less from the man who brought us "The Grand Budapest Hotel," one of the most visually satisfying films we've ever seen. All of the animals here are also anthropomorphic, but they simultaneously have that wild animal element that can be seen when they eat and even sometimes when they quarrel. The score also has that individual, very whimsical sound we are use to hearing in Anderson's pictures. There is a lot of clever dialogue that will really make you laugh and a lot of underlying wit to go along with it. The fact that all of the animals always use the word 'cuss' as a euphemism for actual swear words is pretty humorous and keeps the movie family friendly, something that is not always the case with Anderson's past films.

This is a must see film. It's an outrageously fun film that is entertaining for adults due to its whit, and for kids due to its animation and overall silliness. It is a visual delight in the tried and true style of Wes Anderson with a score and soundtrack to match. The voice over work is tremendous, it is superbly funny, and we had a wonderful time watching it. Just like a fox, this film will slyly work its way into your heart and mind long after it's over. We will definitely own it and highly recommend it. Even if you think you're not a Wes Anderson fan, you'll find something to love about "Fantastic Mr. Fox."

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
One year ago, we were watching: "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters"

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