Fantastic Mr. Fox - Blu-ray Review

'while Anderson includes existential musings on the 'nature of the beast' to appeal to his own crowd here, he also never forgets the drama'

Wes Anderson is not a director I can claim to like. For all his obvious intelligence and appealing penchant for the slightly bizarre he consistently seems to be a man more concerned with imbuing his films with his own brand of aesthetic decadence, time and again wasting intelligent plot ideas or clever comedy in favour of pausing on moments of his own 'genius'. I still maintain that Rushmore is one of the most overrated films, not just of modern times, but potentially, ever. Perhaps it's no surprise then that Fantastic Mr. Fox is slightly arrogant, rather smug and aesthetically inclined to wallow in Anderson's concerns but what is surprising is that despite this the film is actually, really rather good.

Anderson does take some liberties with the source material to push Mr. Fox (George Clooney) into a world he is more familiar with. In Anderson's hands Mr. Fox is the writer of a man-about-town-alike newspaper column who is unhappy with his life since retiring from chicken rustling and desperately wants his wife (Meryl Streep) and son (Jason Schwartzman) to up the pace of their slow-boil existence. Moving to a new dwelling, Mr. Fox and compatriot Kylie (Wally Wolodarsky) are soon back to causing trouble and find themselves at odds with local farmers Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), Bunce (Hugo Guinness) and Bean (Michael Gambon).

Anderson's plot machinations may lead to some fans of the original work (probably any one born in the 70s or 80s) finding themselves immediately alienated. This isn't an adaptation of a children's book, rather an adult update from someone who read the tale at an older age. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. Adaptations of popular works that take more than a few liberties can be dangerous and, although I can't claim I won't be disappointed if the Wachowskis mess up one of the better books I've read recently, I normally find it's better to take a more philosophical view of things; this is just Anderson's vision after all, it doesn't belittle whatever your own is, nor does it make a further adaptation impossible.

But make no mistake this is a more developed, adult, vision of the tale. The character-driven story is an adult-driven one where the kids (Schwartzman's Ash and his cousin Kristofferson, played by Wes' brother Eric) react to their parents actions; whether they be foolish or wise. Anderson also chooses to have the adults act like adults; they fight and cuss (literally using the word 'cuss') and make, crucially, fox-like mistakes as opposed to human ones. Anderson's world is believable both in its animated beauty and the actions of his characters but some areas of it (particularly the near-constant 'cussing') will leave parents with a decision on how suitable it is and children with a decision on how entertaining it is.

While Anderson includes existential musings on the 'nature of the beast' to appeal to his own crowd here, he also never forgets the drama. The father-son dynamic is present and developed and a hareum-scareum situation full of clever and charming elements (lit fircones as grenades are a highlight) are never out of reach or over played. It might seem like some of these compliments are a bit veiled and yes, I'll admit, although Fantastic Mr. Fox won me over as a film it didn't quite win me over to Anderson's machinations as a director. Admittedly though, Anderson's film is a really solid and highly entertaining offering and it did include enough to be enjoyable to the none-Anderson convert and to remain an enjoyable fable which, adaptational alterations aside, is exactly what Dahl intended.

Look further...

'The themes would most likely hold more profundity for adults and the dialogue may go over the head of even the most lucid children but there is a pervasive sense of juvenility about it all' - Encore's World of Film and TV, B+


  1. Sounds interesting, and yet it is the least intriguing to me of Anderson's films. I really like The Royal Tennenbaums, but I think, as a mother, I have enough cartoons in my life.


  2. I really enjoyed this as well. It's not perfect by any stretch, but a solid film that I think should have gotten more love than it did.

  3. It is a very entertaining watch Michele and probably a good one to watch with your kids (bearing in mind what myself and others have written about the 'adult' aspects of it) - you'll probably both find you get something out of it and it really is very enjoyable.

    It's certainly not perfect but as I say, I found myself having a lot of fun with it.