Wes Anderson has such a distinct style that it can be quite jarring and polarizing. I’m not necessarily a huge fan but I do appreciate The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, even if some of the storytelling elements and decisions that Anderson makes with his shots and cinematography aren’t exactly to my taste.
It seems that his approach to Fantastic Mr Fox fits this style very well though. It is a quieter, more subtle but still very quirky movie which is centred around some great characters and very extreme moments that have a better place in an animation than some of the live action work he has done.
The casting is key and George Clooney as Mr Fox is genius. Smooth, confident and assured summarises both the character and the vocal talents of the actor portraying him. It doesn’t just stop with Mr Fox though, Meryl Streep plays his long-suffering wife, Bill Murray lends his usual hand (or voice) and everyone else from Willem Dafoe to Owen Wilson getting involved as well.
The story itself feels like it is removed from the Roald Dahl book it is based on. I don’t remember sub-plots involving a disheartened child, a new interloping nephew or a renegade killer rat. I also don’t remember motorcycles and safe-breaking missions. I could be wrong but then these additions are not actually criticisms. Each minor story element builds to the usual, quirky Wes Anderson fare that has made him such a successful and popular director.
The quirkiness of Anderson lends itself nicely to the animation style he has chosen. Stop-motion is used effectively and the design of the characters is also fantastic, from the thin, sprightly foxes down to the unique character designs of each individual villainous farmer. It is flawlessly shot and created with great, obviously painstaking, talent.
It is still Wes Anderson though and some moments in his movies always fall flat with me. The slight pauses, the outlandish characters or the “witty dialogue” shared by characters don’t quite chime with me the way they seem to chime with others. It is one of the easier Wes Anderson movies to watch but I doubt his movies will ever truly appeal like they do to others.
Overall, Fantastic Mr Fox is a fresh animation movie, which is shot in stop-motion effectively with great character design. The story is given some creative boosts but remains somewhat faithful to Roald Dahl’s classic. It still holds some of the usual Wes Anderson “gimmicks” though and this will always jar with me, who just does not get it.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)