Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

 

If that isn’t an impressive shot for a stop-motion film, I don’t know what is. I’m jealous. Last night, I went to my library and found this in the “new releases” section. This was the first time I could get it as other patrons had previously checked it out. Now I want the Criterion print on my shelf.

Mr. Fox returns to stealing chickens from three evil farmers who try to kill him.

I’m still new to Wes Anderson’s work, only having seen Moonrise Kingdom, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and now this. Even from just those three films, I can see that he has an eye for composition and color palette. Nearly every frame can be a beautiful photograph tucked away in some scrapbook in the attic. Speaking of color, here’s the color map for the entire film.

As I waited for the DVD player to warm up, I noticed the rating on the back listed “slang humor” as an advisory. While it isn’t the strangest reason I’ve found for a rating, I saw where it came from. In the film, instead of using actual profanity, every word is replaced with “cuss”. I don’t have a problem with the actual use (other than making sure my viewing environment is secure from impressionable ears) but after a while, it does lose power and meaning. Here, the euphemism (being a family film and all) has a new spark of life and maintains its power throughout. At one point, a wall in the background is seen vandalized with “CUSS”. That’s funny, along with the fact that this was a 20th Century Fox film.

Halfway through the film, I was interrupted and was asked to do some chore. It was the first time my eyes looked away from the screen. I felt a little disoriented as for the past 45 minutes, I was in a symmetrical world with clearly defined focal points. Now, everything was asymmetrical and unclear. Once I resumed play, I felt back at home until the end of the film. I’m fine now, but it’s incredible if a film can do that to your vision.

Looking back on it, I wonder who the audience was. Besides fans of Wes Anderson, Roald Dahl, and stop-motion animation, I didn’t see any indication of a specific audience. I don’t remember seeing tie-ins with fast food joints or any kind of merchandising outside of a soundtrack. People did watch it, as it made a little more than their budget. It’s an official Criterion Collection selection, like I mentioned above, but those are mainly for the serious collector and viewer. So who is it for? I’m not exactly sure.

It’s not a perfect film but I enjoyed this film and look forward to adding it to my personal collection. It’s different but fantastic.

8/10

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4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

  1. It was neat to see Anderson play around with the look and feel of an animated movie. Wouldn’t be surprised if we see him tackle that at least one more time in his career. Good review.

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