Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox

"I don't have a bandit mask, but I did modify this tube sock."

Director: Wes Anderson

Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwarzman, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon

Rating: 8/10

How does one bring to life Roald Dahl’s woodland tale of the irrepressible but fantastic Mr. Fox? Director of The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore Wes Anderson brings his signature droll characterisation and rich, autumnal colour palette to the story and treats his audience to a beautifully realised and highly enjoyable adventure through the world of wild animals.
The plot follows Mr Fox (Clooney), a former chicken thief who gave up his wild ways in favour of settling down with his wife (Streep) and new cub (Schwartzman). As his son grows older, Mr. Fox sneaks back into his former lifestyle which sets in motion a disastrous pursuit by local angry farmers, putting the lives of his animal friends in danger.
The film has its share of ups and downs. It is clear by about twenty minutes in that there has been some necessary but not always successful stretching of the plot. At 87 minutes this is a rather short film but it still feels spread a little thin. However, if you are as enthralled by the film as I was, you will probably find you can forgive this.
The voice casting is immaculate and gives life to the simplistic characters. The script is quirky and hilarious, basking in its own playfulness while also showing a confidently mature sense of humour. Particularly enjoyable is the conflict between Ash, Mr Fox’s less-than-adequate son and Kristofferson, Mr. Fox’s very adequate nephew.
Perhaps this is too eclectic a mix for all tastes. It will delight some and irritate others but it will certainly charm audiences with its beautiful visuals and its sense of innocence and fun. Anderson instils in the film a knowing self-awareness of its own childishness, but manages this without the slightest air of pomposity. Definitely a bit of fun for both children and adults alike, and when compared with what’s been done with other beloved children’s stories (Dr. Seuss, I’m looking at you) this film proves to be refreshingly sophisticated.

- Charlene Lydon

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