FANTASTIC MR. FOX: FILM REVIEW
Watching Fantastic Mr. Fox is like slowly savoring a delicately crafted tarte. As one of Wes Anderson’s best creations, Fantastic Mr. Fox is indulgent at its surface, but unravels itself to be a meticulously crafted story once its pyramid of layers is unpacked.
Wes Anderson’s stop-motion film, Fantastic Mr. Fox, is adapted from Roald Dahl’s children’s novel of the same name. Written by Anderson and Noah Baumbach, the story revolves around Mr. Fox (George Clooney), a fox who works as a newspaper columnist, but has a knack for stealing chickens from a nearby farm. Although Mr. Fox promises to never steal from the farm again after Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) becomes pregnant, he cannot help but resume his bad habit. Mr. Fox is a charming character, but perhaps a little too witty for his own good. After several successful attempts, Mr. Fox gets a bit careless, and the three farmers he steals from, Boggie, Bunce, and Bean, eventually find out they’re being robbed. Mr. Fox endangers not only his family and his marriage, but also those around him, which include a community composed of Mr. Fox’s lawyer, Badger (Bill Murray), rabbits, and possums. The main driver of the plot revolves around the chase between Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, and Mr. Fox and the other animals in the neighborhood.
Wes Anderson has no problem adding a quirky tendency to his films. This unique Wes Anderson feel can be felt throughout all his work, and some are more successful than others. In Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson’s sweet stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, this touch makes it feel like an original story. The viewer is brought into a world that so charmingly mirrors real life, we don’t need much to be convinced. Although we see puppets on screen, our minds register them as embodiments of enduring, conflicted creatures, rich with color and charisma.
The underlying conflicts that arise in Fantastic Mr. Fox bounce between families, partners, cousins, and community. Mr. Fox’s son, 12-year old Ash, is a particularly empathetic character, as much of his struggle throughout the film revolves around his stark contrast with his seemingly- perfect cousin, Kristofferson. Ash is incredibly insecure, not only of himself, but also of his father’s love towards him. Ash will do anything to prove his worth, even though no one needs him to do so besides himself. While the stakes of the situation that Mr. Fox has put everyone in are life and death, each character views the situation through their own internal turmoil. During a pivotal moment of the film, Ash tries to form his own escape plan, projecting his insecurities onto a very dangerous situation. Similarly, the narrative that drives the plot is the consequence of Mr. Fox indulging in his own ego, as he can’t help but chase after his dreams and adrenaline rushes. However, on the other side of that ego is love, as Mr. Fox also feels the responsibility of everyone’s well-being rests on his shoulders.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is an ambitious project -- an undertaking, that when done successfully, feels as if a well-kept ecosystem has been crafted before your eyes. Wes Anderson creates a story that is both visually and emotionally engaging with its characters. The use of stop-motion as opposed to live-action or cartoon, adds a tenderness to the film, releasing pressure on the viewer to feel the high-stakes of the plot. At the very least, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delight to watch, and at its utmost core, is a sentimental story of a community of animals whose actions reflect the conflicts between nature and nurture, as well as cynicism towards both animalistic and human tendencies.