22 November 2009 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox
I'm pretty much the sucker for stop motion animation, so this naturally comes with that wee bit of bias, because I surely take my hats off to the filmmakers, especially the modelers and pretty much everyone who has to painstakingly move everything a little bit at a time, which for folks who are impatient (like myself), would already have driven one nuts.
But this crazy effort in bringing to life Roald Dahl's story of a sly fox, is pretty much worth every frame of it. The man hours and intricate designs are something of an old school technique when compared to the latest computer wizardry, but you'll be amazed at what director Wes Anderson and his team managed to come up with, complete with a solid story, likable characters, and plenty of fun.
George Clooney voices Mr Fox, a smug (what else, since Clooney chews these type of roles for breakfast) and wily erm, fox whose specialty is being the chicken thief that he is, providing for family. An incident cutting too close to death has Mr Fox promise Mrs Fox (Meryl Streep) that his thieving days are over, but you know how a leopard cannot change its spots. Soon he moves his family near three farmers Bean (Michael Gambon), Boggis (Robin Hurlstone) and Bunce (Hugo Guinness), and crafts his final hurrah in hitting all three neighbours, only for them to retaliate and demolish Mr Fox's lifestyle, and not to mention his relationship with wife, family and friends, resulting in a battle of wills and wits.
Despite the relatively short run time, the film managed to pack plenty of subplots, characterization, and comedy into one well oiled narrative. You'll surely be one without a sense of humour should you not be able to laugh at anything and everything that Anderson had put on screen, from slapstick to really smart and funny lines that make up every moment of enjoyment in this film. The A-list voice cast also includes the likes of Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Brian Cox, Adrien Brody et al, some of whom you'll know are regulars in Anderson's past works.
And if you had enjoyed his past quirky films, then you'd come to expect the same for Fantastic Mr. Fox, with Wes Andersen's signature touches all over the shop, where he made some departures from Dahl's book, but manage to retain the essence of the story, and through a stroke of luck, finding an alternate ending from Dahl's original manuscript which got adopted here in the film. It's comical, it's smart, it's stop motion and it won't be too long before fans will soon adopt Mr Fox's trademarked whistle-whistle-click-click.