Film Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Story by Eric Christenson

I don’t think I’m lying when I say Wes Anderson knows how to make a film. I’ve always been a pretty big fan of his movies because not only do they look tremendously beautiful, they’re written immensely well and the acting is always peculiar and terrific.

Typically, a Wes Anderson character is emotionally detached, but in nearly every film, there’s this emotional underpinning that drives the movies in a good direction. It’s really interesting to see that friction between an unemotional character and extremely emotional situations.

But “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” in that respect, is completely separate from that idea. The characters are very outwardly emotional and passionate. It’s a very refreshing take in consideration with the rest of Anderson’s work.

Not to mention, it’s (expertly) stop-motion animated. By rights, the movie shouldn’t probably make sense on a shelf next to “The Royal Tenenbaums” or “Rushmore,” but it does and that’s almost exclusively because of Anderson’s signature cinematography style.

Based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is about a family of foxes: Mr. Fox (George Clooney), his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) and son Ash (Jason Schwartzman).

Mr. Fox used to be an expert chicken thief, but after getting caught, he promised Felicity he wouldn’t steal chickens anymore. But, when the family moves to a grove next to the three biggest farms around, Mr. Fox is tempted back into it, unbeknownst to his wife.

Another source of conflict is that Ash wants to be an athlete, but he’s small and when his cousin, Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson, Wes’ brother) moves in, Ash is tremendously angsty and jealous toward him.

Mr. Fox ends up recruiting the swift and athletic Kristofferson to help steal chickens, and it makes Ash furious. Mr. Fox treats Kristofferson like more of a son than Ash.
But when the three farmers catch on to Mr. Fox’s schemes, they launch a bloodthirsty campaign to kill the foxes as well as many of the other animals living nearby, so the animals have to take to the underground.

The movie is excellent and really lends itself to the prolific attention to detail in the stop-motion animation. I absolutely can’t imagine how tedious this must have been, but Anderson and the engineers’ time and care really shine through. The animation combined with Anderson’s incredible framing of shots and superb direction really makes the film a whole lot of fun to watch.

The subtleties of the stop-motion animation are truly remarkable and the supporting cast is extraordinary (featuring Anderson veterans Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Willem Dafoe). This combination makes the film endlessly interesting and appealing enough for several watches. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.