FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)
Featuring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wallace Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson and Jarvis Cocker.
Screenplay by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach.
Directed by Wes Anderson.
Distributed by 20th Century Fox. 88 minutes. Rated PG.
Wes Anderson, director of such quirky and droll movies as Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, is very much an acquired taste. Either you get him or you simply don’t.
Well, I suppose there is a middle ground, because I have to say I kind of respect him as a filmmaker, but about a half-hour into The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou I came to the realization that while his work is certainly interesting, it is a little too precious and fussy for my taste.
So, I’m a little in the middle, but I definitely am leaning towards the don’t-get-him camp.
However, it seemed like a stroke of genius to let the guy loose on the quirk-laden work of children’s author Roald Dahl. It was even raising the bar to let him film the whole thing in old-fashioned stop-motion animation.
Yet, somehow, Fantastic Mr. Fox suffers from the same schizophrenic qualities as Anderson’s live action original films. In parts it is brilliant. In other parts it is pretentious. The look of the film is often stunning… and just as often clunky and underwhelming. The jokes tend to be clever but the story tends to be absurd. The film is at the same time extremely intriguing and terribly frustrating – with the frustrating eventually winning the race by a good measure.
The whole time I was watching the movie, I was thinking that I couldn’t believe that people actually saw this on the big screen. If any film was ever made for the more modest confines of the television screen, this is the one.
The second thing I thought was that for an animated film about cute furry animals, most everything in the film was aimed way over the heads of children. This will seem an odd complaint, but Fantastic Mr. Fox is much too literate for a children’s film. Small kids just won’t pick up on the movie’s inspired turns of phrase – and without the abundant surreally clever dialogue and fine voice acting, the film has very little to offer.
Okay, I understand that not all animated films are made for a young audience, but in an odd way, I believe this one was. After all, it is based on a famous children’s tale and has cute furry talking animals. Anderson has just misjudged his audience, it would seem.
While Fantastic Mr. Fox has a lot of good moments to offer, I have to say that the only one of this acclaimed director’s films that I actually can say that I really enjoyed is still Rushmore.
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 21, 2010.