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Thursday, November 19, 2009
Fantastic Mr. Fox review
My review appears in WE this week!
George Clooney voices the title character in Fantastic Mr. Fox.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX
Starring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe
Directed by Wes Anderson
Reviewed: Andrea Warner
Lush landscapes, fur rustling in the breeze, paws digging and dirt flying: Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, the writer-director’s first foray into animation, is the most innovative and “real” film he’s done since 2001’s The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s also easily the best screen adaptation of any book by beloved children’s author Roald Dahl.
Fox (George Clooney) is a dare-devilish rogue who gets his thrills stealing chickens, until his wife, Felicity (Meryl Streep), reveals she’s pregnant and makes him promise to give up his thrill-seeking ways. A few years later, Fox has settled into family life, toeing the poverty line as a newspaper columnist, and longing to get back to the thrill of the chase. Fox says he can’t deny his true nature any longer, he’s “a wild animal after all.”
He embarks on one last heist, stealing from the three evil farmers: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean (the latter played by a gravel-throated Michael Gambon). When they catch on, they vow to kill Fox by whatever means necessary. This includes demolishing the Fox’s home and driving the family and their friends underground — which, in turn, leads to more and more ridiculous and elaborate tricks (everything from explosives to a tidal wave of apple cider), until the animals decide to fight back.
This is when Fox derails, taking us away from the book’s allegory of big-business farmers encroaching on animal habitats and the ensuing struggle for survival, and transforming into a large-scale caper film (not dissimilar to Clooney’s Oceans series). The two divergent storylines are tied together rather neatly — if sadly — at the end, but the initial break is the one misstep in Anderson and Noah Baumbach’s vision. Fortunately, it’s not enough to distract from the film’s real triumph: its sumptuous stop-motion animation.
Quickly paced with twinkly banjo-laden background music, Fox is a visual feast of intricate buildings and small-town streets, richly detailed landscapes, and animals with eyes that well up with fat tears — more energetic and vivid than almost any live-action film of the last year. Anderson has finally found a format that can withstand his trademark blend of quirk, heart, and intelligent whimsy. This Fox is utterly, well, fantastic. ★★★★—Andrea Warner
I started this blog as a means of archiving my published writing when I began freelancing in 2007. In 2012, I stopped updating it because I was just too busy with my freelancing (this is an excellent problem to have). Since several of the places I worked for in my first five years sort of disappeared from the internet, I'm so happy to have the pieces online and available at my fingertips. You can now find the majority of my writing via my Twitter page (@_AndreaWarner) or FB author page. Thanks!
In October 2007, I finally quit my job and gave in to my writing. It had been a bit of a fight for years, this wrestling between us. Now it's the peaceful chaos of pitching ideas, getting assignments, and being paid to do what I love. (Last updated 2012, freelancing life became much busier and more stable!)