Best Movie Ever: Fantastic Mr Fox

Posted on January 22, 2014

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First of all, I’ve taken the decision to replace the ‘Cinema Club’ series with the ‘Best Movie Ever’ series. Now, don’t be confused. Every film I watch couldn’t possibly be the Best Movie Ever, but most of them will be from the now-fabled Una Ciric list of Best Movies Ever, and I can’t really watch films now without half-thinking what her opinion of them would be. So there.

I can’t quite believe it has taken me so long to watch Wes Anderson’s first foray into animation, 2009’s ‘The Fantastic Mr Fox’. It’s easy to straight away assume that this would be exactly my type of animated picture. It follows the life of Foxy, a wonderfully charming fox with a wife and child, as he moves the family from a hole in the ground into a tree in a meadow, all be it a tree that looks out onto the three businesses owned by the local human bastards, Borris, Bunce and Bean (one fat, one short, one lean). Foxy used to steal birds, but after his wife makes him give it up he can’t resist the temptation forever. He hatches his master plan, and steals from all three of the bastards. He doesn’t reckon on Bean’s insatiable appetite for revenge however, and soon Foxy and his entire family are on the run. The hunt proves unsuccessful however, and something of a happy ending is achieved as the animals learn to live in the sewers and find themselves with a supermarket all to themselves.

Don’t let the stop-motion animation fool you though. This is very much a Wes Anderson film. All of the Anderson characters are there, voiced by the usual suspects (Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson et al). The character types are all there as well. You have the irresistibly charming but flawed main male character. You have the outcast son, the son who feels like they can’t live up to the expectations set upon them. You have the dumb but incredibly loyal friend. You have the immensely talented secondary family member who increases the outcast-feeling in the son. This is animation, but it still manages to be unmistakably Anderson in the aesthetics. Yeah, it may follow the same posts we’ve come to expect, but that doesn’t make it any less than wonderful. The ‘Whack-Bat’ description in particular put a smile on my grid.

I could very easily start picking holes in the film. For one, there little bits of misogyny are disappointing. The only female characters in the film are Felicity, Foxy’s wife who is referred to as a tramp at one point, and Agnes, a younger female fox who acts purely as the romantic interest of son Ash and cousin Kristofferson. I’m aware that this film is based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, but better female representation would have been nice. Other than that, ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ made me laugh more than most films I’ve seen in recent months, as well as being aesthetically wonderful and having a more than satisfying conclusion. Everything you’ve come to expect from Wes Anderson, only in stop-motion animation.

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Posted in: Cinema