Reviewed Feb 19, 2012
Kurt Halfyard’s review:
Like all of Wes Anderson’s pictures, Fantastic Mr. Fox dances between meaningful and artificial. Often the directors detractors spend too much time on the latter, and perhaps miss the immense character detail revealed in their diorama surroundings and meticulously selected wardrobes. Of course the stop-motion technique selected to animate the film threatens to enhance the artificial, but somehow, the animators have transcended the challenge put to them to tell the story this way. This is simply the right way to do a Wes Anderson Movie. Do the simple thought exercise of imagining this film as a 3D CGI or 2D cel animation affair. After seeing the auburn and honey world in sumptuous detail (right down to a micro-train set and a high-school chemistry laboratory), the thought of it being anything else is simply, well, unthinkable!
The most intriguing element of Mr. Fox is the animal behavior of the characters. Outbursts of rage and violence by the characters that give the novel attitude of ‘here are animals playing humans, but really are animals’ that far too often neuters North American animated stories featuring, well, talking animals. A scene involving Mr. Fox with his lawyer, Badger (Bill Murray) discussing the value of moving living quarters from a hole in the ground to a hollowed out tree starts out pretty civilized, but ends with both animals snarling and clawing. An exchange between Fox and his wife even involves some blood letting from a slap to the face that resonates in spite of (or because of) the stop motion look of the wound.
A film of incredible detail, wit and resonance. Plus: Dancing
*UPDATE*: Kids Talk Film Episode: vimeo.com/channels/kidstalkfilm/37091111