Wes Anderson has always known how to do two things: entertain and accumulate an impressive cast of highly regarded actors. In his latest film, the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox, he does both to utter perfection by combining witty comedy, a cleverly constructed script and a series of unforgettable characters- all of which help to make for one extremely entertaining adventure that only Anderson would know how to tell.
George Clooney and Meryl Streep take the leads in this sophisticated tale, serving as the charming Mr. and Mrs. Fox respectively. Mr. Fox used to be a bird stealer, and when danger finally hit home, he agreed to change careers. However, as time passed, and money began to grow scarce, Fox opted to secretly venture out one last time. Regretfully, that last visit turned into a series of last visits, all of which accumulated into an unexpected shroud of events. Before they know it, the Fox family is forced to vacate their new home and go on the run to escape the grasp of angry, powerful nearby farmers. Trapped underground, the animal kingdom must ban together to fight against the evil farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean - who will stop at nothing when it comes to capturing Fox and his accomplices.
While the story looks to contain more action than anything else, it is really the underlining wit and humor that Fantastic Mr. Fox thrives on most. The small pop-culture references are plentiful during the near 90 minutes feature, and the cleverly crafted characters and story elements make for some unexpected laughs.
Every time a cuss word would be spoken (by any character), the actual work is replaced with 'cuss,' giving the older audience something to call their own. It is really the lone constant joke that runs throughout the film's entirety, and a humorous one at that. It also demonstrates that though animated, Fantastic Mr. Fox isn't necessarily a kid's movie. Sure the story is simple enough for them to understand, but the humor is really meant for a much older, experienced audience.
The relationship between Ash and Kristofferson (Mr. Fox's son and nephew respectively) is the big character development that takes place during the film. Their initial excitement about meeting one another followed by their eventual bitter rivalry, developed when Mr. Fox begins to take a greater liking towards his nephew, is hysterical in its obvious nature. A diving contest between the two is only the beginning as masks and late night escapades only strengthen Ash's disproval of his new live- in cousin.
The film uses the long gone stop-motion puppet form of animation (boy was that a mouthful), giving viewers a different perspective of the computerized genre. The effect is great as I can't imagine how such a simplistic story could have been presented in any other way and still have possessed the same clever tone. The somewhat messy style allowed me to relax as I sat watching the events unfold on screen. I allowed the highly entertaining music to free my mind as I witnessed one of the most entertaining spectacles of the year.
And speaking of the music, I have to mention how intoxicating it was. Not only did it fit every scene perfectly within the scope of the film, but its beat and tone added to the humor that lies beneath the story and its characters. After I left the theater, I caught myself humming a few of the tracks, not necessarily a rarity for me, but an interesting thing to note since none of the tracks are chart toppers for my generation.
All in all, Fantastic Mr. Fox is hysterical and clever. The quick dialogue exchanges between characters add to the humor. There are times where I recognized a harsh lack of emotion, though each time it seemed to fit the moment perfectly. The characters are priceless, the cast stacked, and the illusive behavior of Mr. Fox is perfect. It took six films for Wes Anderson to venture into the world of animation, and with his clever writing and directing style, I can only hope that he chooses to come back soon - for the world of animation is better off with him as an occasional citizen.