It doesn’t surprise me that when Wes Anderson decided to take on a Roald Dahl story, he skipped right over some of the darker tales that inspired Alfred Hitchcock for his television series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” Instead, he went for a softer, more joyous tale of a fox trying to find his place in the world and with his family.
Anderson’s first animated film is a wonderful dive into the cheekily intelligent world that Anderson has established throughout his career. From Bottle Rocket to the Darjeeling Limited, Anderson never fails to create honest, flawed and charming characters–allowing the audience to witness these characters both at their lowest moments and their most endearing. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is no exception. Despite its more familial feel and childlike tone, the film is one of the more intelligent and mature stories released this year. If Wes Anderson had a plan to win the hearts of film-goers everywhere with this film, he has succeeded.
I have always been a fan of Anderson’s works; I don’t believe he has made a single movie that has not made me laugh out loud, sympathize with the character’s pains, and leave completely enthralled with the mise-en-scene and art-direction. The Fantastic Mr. Fox has simply put Anderson on a new platform entirely. The art of stop-motion animation is a painstaking process. The smallest details are of the utmost importance. In this film, they aren’t even noticeable. The whimsical beauty of the world he created transports you instantaneously, leaving you desperate for more once the credits roll.
The acting, despite animation, is superb. George Clooney is being heralded for his performance, saying it is one of his best. For me, Jason Schwartsman owned the film. Schwartzman plays Ash, Mr. Fox’s only son who is a bit ‘different’ and desperately wants to be like his athletic and ever-charming father. Ash’s cousin, the ever-perfect Kristofferson, comes to visit leaving Ash in a bit of a jealous-angst rut. Shwartzman’s dead-pan tone mixed perfectly with fantastic costuming (he spends the majority of the film in pajamas tucked into his socks and a towel for a cape) and expression work make for one of the better on-screen characters perhaps in all of Anderson’s films.
As the economy has been weighing heavily on many of us, I understand the urge to stay in and not pay upwards of $12 for a movie ticket. This would be one of the times that the $12 is not only worth it, but necessary.