Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
February 2, 2016 7:17 PM - Subscribe

An urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers' retaliation.

Roger Ebert: The film's based on the famous children's book by Roald Dahl, which like all of his work, has ominous undertones, as if evil can steal in at any moment. These animals aren't catering to anyone in the audience. We get the feeling they're intensely leading their own lives without slowing down for ours.

Like the hero of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," also based on one of his books, the creatures of Dahl's valley seem to know more than they're letting on; perhaps even secrets we don't much want to know. Children, especially, will find things they don't understand, and things that scare them. Excellent. A good story for children should suggest a hidden dimension, and that dimension of course is the lifetime still ahead of them. Six is a little early for a movie to suggest to kids that the case is closed. Oh, what if the kids start crying about words they don't know? -- Mommy, Mommy! What's creme brulee?" Show them, for goodness sake. They'll thank you for it. Take my word on this.

NYTimes: Is it is a movie for children? This inevitable question depends on the assumption that children have uniform tastes and expectations. How can that be? And besides, the point of everything Mr. Anderson has ever done is that truth and beauty reside in the odd, the mismatched, the idiosyncratic. He makes that point in ways that are sometimes touching, sometimes annoying, but usually worth arguing about. Not everyone will like “Fantastic Mr. Fox”; and if everyone did, it would not be nearly as interesting as it is. There are some children — some people — who will embrace it with a special, strange intensity, as if it had been made for them alone.

The Guardian: Granted, Anderson's mannerisms have been irritating in the past, but pitching a film at children has restored his sweet-natured charm. This is hip – but with heart. Anderson and his co-writer, Noah Baumbach, together dream up a home-made simulacrum of the universe, in which lives a slightly reclusive and dysfunctional family group, like those in Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou or in Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale. Those were families who nursed their singularities and shared weirdnesses as a defence against the world. In Fantastic Mr Fox, the world itself seems just a little bit weird, but gloriously so. Ash's bedroom has a tremendous toy train, which looks for all intents and purposes precisely like the real train we see periodically beetling across the landscape. This is a cosmos crying out to be played with and enjoyed.

The Dissolve: “I’m a wild animal,” Mr. Fox says drolly, as he stands on two legs, looking dapper in his corduroy suit. The irony of a line like that is all the thicker for Anderson fans, who recognize the dearth of wild-animal behavior in his comedies, but it’s also the film’s legitimate theme. What connects Mr. Fox to other Anderson heroes is that he does what’s in his nature, no matter the emotional consequences to the people around him. There’s no evident malice to him, just as there’s no evident malice to Max Fischer in Rushmore, or Dignan in Bottle Rocket, or Steve Zissou in The Life Aquatic. But they’re all guilty of pursuing their own visions, and the films are about rescuing them from their own myopia. Anderson isn’t the type of filmmaker who delves into mankind’s animal nature, but his insights into human nature (or human-like fox nature) are always keen, no matter how whimsical his films are.


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posted by MoonOrb (11 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I love this movie to distraction. here is a link to a fresh air interview

What an amazing cast this has!

After repeated viewings one of my favorite things is 'Petey' the guitar player.
posted by bq at 8:54 PM on February 2, 2016

I cussing love the cuss out of this movie.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:57 PM on February 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

I loved this movie when I watched it on a tiny airplane seat back screen and have been meaning to watch it "for real" ever since. At this point I will probably just wait until my daughter is a little older and we can enjoy it together.
posted by town of cats at 10:52 PM on February 2, 2016

Frequent Anderson collaborator Alexandre Desplat composed much of the score and soundtrack.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:54 PM on February 2, 2016

I think I've seen this movie three times now. Here were my thought processes on each watch - and bear in mind, I'm a Wes Anderson fan.

1st viewing: "WTF, this is nothing like the book? It's nothing like Wes' other movies either. Not sure I like this. What were they thinking? Neither kids nor grown-ups movie."

2nd viewing: "Hey, this is actually really fun! Look at all the detail and love put into every scene, how smart it is! Let's freeze-frame all the newspapers to read the jokes..."

3rd viewing: "Wait... the ending... it's just so depressing. The whole thing is a commentary on domestication and comfort, obviously. We need to go deeper!"
posted by adrianhon at 3:26 AM on February 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ebert seems to have seen a much darker and scarier movie than the one I saw. I thought it was pretty cute, quirky, Wes Anderson-y stuff, with talking animals. Where are the big scares?

I remember reading that the animators grew to genuinely detest Anderson because he insisted on them doing everything the way they would have done it back in the old Rankin-Bass/Gumby days. That meant they couldn't use a lot of the tech that makes stop-motion easier now, so it took a lot longer and they were getting fingerprints on everything and getting backaches and leaving rolls of duct tape in the frame. It was kind of like asking people who are used to word processing to do everything with typewriters and leave the mistakes in. I totally get why they were so frustrated, but the result is a movie that feels handmade and funky, something different from what you'd see from Aardman or Laika.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:33 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Where are the big scares?

They are largely existential.
posted by maxsparber at 11:16 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

"That's just lazy songwriting. You wrote a bad song, Petey!"
posted by Huffy Puffy at 1:43 PM on February 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Mr Fox's study is based on the interior of Dahl's writing hut, which is on display at the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden.
posted by brujita at 4:45 PM on February 3, 2016

[Obligatory: You guys all know that Petey is Jarvis Cocker, from Pulp, right?]
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:33 AM on February 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

This movie is proto-Bojack.
posted by oulipian at 8:28 PM on February 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

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