By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
With stop motion animation and talking foxes, Mr. Fox is a completely mature story for adults. Mr. Fox is in a dangerous criminal profession, he starts a family, his son has teen angst, he returns to a life of crime and that brings the hurt down on everyone. I think the kids will get that too, but I can only assume.
Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox
There are references to our world but not in a timely pop culture way that would date the film. They mention cataracts and stigmatisms. Those will always be around and viewers will always know this film exists in a grown-up world. So will mortgages and good credit, though that does end up being especially timely today. Maybe I’m Mr. Fox and this is my warning that if I don’t act responsibly I’ll just make things worse.
Or maybe it’s also adorable slapstick that’s appropriate for any kid. The visual gags are priceless, like Mr. Fox hiding behind a cider bottle. The foxes devouring their food is wonderful, and usually punctuates a weighty character moment with a ridiculous bit of animation. They run up the walls for no reason. I guess the reason is that it’s awesome.
Everything in the movie is just so whimsical: the design of the scenery, the way they eat, the way they swear... When the foxes have to dig their way out of the path of the farmers’ bulldozers, it looks like the video game Dig Dug. It’s not even that it’s a specific reference. It just puts images that only exist in fantasy into a real context.
It’s a roller coaster. Just when things are going well, the characters ruin it for themselves. The action is better than most live action movies. It’s still shooting and chasing, but the fox moves, the animation style, the carefully constructed movements of the action make it more exciting in this format.
The music feels totally in line with Wes Anderson’s previous soundtrack choices. The original song, “Boggis, Bunce and Bean” totally belongs in a Roald Dahl movie. It could be out of Willy Wonka but it’s about this story.
I see Fantastic Mr. Fox becoming a perennial family film. It hits me today on the same level that Labyrinth and Willy Wonka still do: Wildly creative, dramatically intense and just a warm, fuzzy, joyful feeling.