Film: Fantastic Mr. Fox

I either didn’t read Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox or simply don’t remember it, so I had no idea what to expect going into Wes Anderson’s animated film version. Well, except that it would probably be Wes Anderson-like. My guess is that if you like the quirky, low key sense of humor of Anderson’s other films (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, etc.), you’ll probably like Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). I certainly got a kick out of it.

Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) is a former chicken thief gone straight, now working a humdrum life as a newspaper writer to support his family. But he can’t resist the lure of his wild animal youth, and behind the back of Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep), he masterminds daring heists against callous local farmers Boggus, Bunce, and Bean, which escalates into an all-out war between the humans and the animals.

Like most of Anderson’s films, the pacing is subdued and the humor is offbeat, although here the uniquely stylized stop-motion animation (which is occasionally creepy, but kind of inherently funny) lends a different kind of energy to the proceedings. Intriguing visuals aside, it’s dialogue that drives the funny here, highlighted by the rivalry between Mr. Fox’s son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) with visiting, too-good-to-be-true cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson). I’m generally not that big on anthropomorphized animal humor, but the take here is pretty clever. It’s light, enjoyable fare, unique and fun.

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