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Fantastic Mr. Fox
While this may not be a film for everyone, I enjoyed every frame of it. I was reading through the production notes and of the crew was quoted as saying that this is not a film that done by moments, it is done by frames. Fantastic Mr. Fox
is writer/director Wes Anderson's (Bottle Rocket
, The Life Aquatic
, The Darjeeling Limited
) first animated film, but being Wes Anderson, he did it with his own signature style of direction. Using the classic stop-motion animation, he brings to life Roald Dahl's story about a family of Fox's trying to survive against the man. Dahl is also responsible for writing one of the most beloved stories of our time; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The story revolves around Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney), his wife (voiced by Meryl Streep) and his son Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman). Mr. Fox and his wife used to go around stealing chickens and such but have not resorted to a more normal life. He now writes for the Gazette but no longer wants to be poor. Their son Ash feels as if he is always being disrespected and is always wondering why his father will not consider him to be an athlete. To make matters worse, the family move into a tree, against their attorney's (voiced by Billy Murray) wishes. Ash's cousin, Kristopherson (voiced by Eric Anderson) comes to live with them and he begins to impress Mr. Fox. While there are family issues occurring, Mr. Fox decides he wants to do one more score and live on the wild side. His house sits right in front of three of the men named Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Bean is famous for his alcoholic cider that everyone craves. Mr. Fox doesn't realize that he will be pulling job on three men who can now threaten him and his family's lives.
Everything about this film felt fresh. The animation, while being choppy, felt so smooth at the same time. There were major parts of the film where I forgot that I was watching stop-motion animation and thought I was watching live action. Anderson shot the film, pretty much exactly the way he shoots his other movies, except this time he has puppets.
When I say I loved every frame of it, I mean just that. Each second of film has 24 frames and they had to fill each frame with a motion. Sometimes he would use the same movement for two frames and that is why you see that choppy look. The cool part is that when you do sit back and think about it being stop-motion, you have to think about all of the work that went into making an 88 minute film, frame by frame. The movement is so fluid. I just love the little things like the champagne bottle being opened or the montage sequence where they are all being flooded out by Bean's cider. That really blew my mind. I just had this wow face the entire movie. It is one of those movies that I would love to go back and just study.
All of the characters were witty and hilarious. One of my favorites was the rat (voiced by Willem Dafoe). He played Mr. Bean's security man. In one particular shot, when Mr. Fox has broken into Bean's house, there is a great silhouette shot of Mr. Bean standing at the door in the dark. As he takes a puff from his cigarette, his face finally appears. Something that little was just so fascinating.
The movie knew it was quirky and this is shown by the text that appears screen with Mr. Fox's plans and ideas. There were so many unique shots throughout the film and of course, how could you not fall in love with Mr. Fox's signature whistle and sound.
I was talking with Wes Anderson about the film and he was saying that since the story is short, he had to write a first and third act to surround Dahl's work. After seeing the final product, it is truly genius how he melded everything into one story. His first and third act felt like they belonged there all along.
This might be the Wes Anderson movie that will get his name out to bigger audiences. It still has that quirky Wes Anderson vibe to it but overall, it is a family film that is actually very well-written and voice acted. Streep, Clooney, Schwartzman and the rest of the cast were perfect for their parts.
I give this film a 4.5 out of 5.