10 December 2009 | conversequeen64
A Wonderful Return to Classic Animation
I'll admit it: I love stop motion animation. From the crude Christmas classics that are always on TV this time of year to the elegant masterpieces of Tim Burton, I never miss the chance to see classic animation at work. Needless to say, when I heard about Fantastic Mr. Fox, I was excited. A wonderful Rhold Dahl book, beautifully crafted animation, and an illustrious cast all in one package – this was exciting. I'm happy to say that my excitement was justified as Fantastic Mr. Fox is perhaps one of the best new movies I have seen this year.
The story of Fantastic Mr. Fox follows the lives of the Fox family – Mr (George Clooney), Mrs(Meryl Streep), and their son(Jason Schwartzman) – and their animal neighbors and friends. Mr. Fox, once a professional chicken stealer, decides to settle down with his wife after she becomes pregnant and instead take up a career in writing. After moving to a new home in the trunk of a tree, Mr. Fox takes notice in three massive fowl and fruit farms. Risking everything. Mr. Fox decides to embark on one last big job – stealing from all three farms. What happens after that can only be described as pure confusion and debauchery.
As with most Rhold Dahl stories, the book Fantastic Mr. Fox works to both excite kids and humor adults. As a result, the original short story is considered a classic for many families. Though some adaptations of Rhold Dahl classics (see BOTH adaptations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) have strayed from Dahl's dry, quirky humor, the film version of one of his best loved stories have honored this side of Dahl's story, projecting a humor perhaps more suited to adults than children, but creating an overall story that will appeal to all.
This movie would likely have been impossible without the work of numerous wonderful voice actors. George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, and Owen Wilson all provide voices in the movie, among other lesser known but still wonderfully talented actors. As a result, the voices blend beautifully into the animation. Instead of feeling like characters with a voice shoved in, the voices and the characters are one.
The animation is perhaps the most appealing aspect of the movie. The script and humor works with the animation in ways traditional or digital animation could not. In many instances, the animation itself provides part of the story. By using a more traditional method, Fantastic Mr. Fox is also able to provide very specific quirks and personalities to each character, something often lost in newer animation. Adding to the animation is a muted, fall palette of colors, giving the entire film a homey, comforting feel.
Animation has become so perverted in recent years. Throwing away emotional appeal for visual appeal, the plethora of slick, computer animated, shiny films are almost unnerving. In such an atmosphere, choosing to make a use traditional animation can often spell anathema for the film. As a result, Fantastic Mr. Fox shines, choosing to pick traditional animation techniques to allow the viewer to relate to and communicate with the film in a way few films are able to do anymore. Though perhaps not for everyone, I would recommend Fantastic Mr. Fox for anyone interested in quirky humor, stop-motion animation, or simply a beautifully crafted and well written story.