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Fantastic Mr. Fox directed by Wes Anderson - Film Review

 

WES ANDERSON LETS HIS HAIR DOWN 

 

picture - Fantastic Mr. FoxMovie Review

by Kevin Bowen

published November 29, 2009

 

Fantastic Mr. Fox

now playing nationwide

 

Smart. Witty. Cool. Hip. Imaginative. Different.  And, like any good fox, sly.

 

Those are the words that apply to Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson’s impressively retro journey into stop-gap animation. The film is a breakthrough for those thirsting for something other than CGI animation. It is also a breakthrough for Anderson, who has been looking for a second act.

 

Fantastic Mr. Fox is first an exercise in style. The film is layered in fall colors –oranges and yellows and browns. More importantly, it is a piece of animation that is directed rather than produced.

 

Where Pixar’s animation bears the brand and the qualities of the studio that makes it, Fantastic Mr. Fox is clearly the act of a single mind on a visual level. All the hallmarks of Anderson’s visual style are there – extreme use of the screen’s width, and most impressively, a world that extends beyond the screen. The camera goes up, down, all around. Has the visual style of an animated ever seemed so liberated?

 

picture - Fantastic Mr. FoxYet its story (based on the Roald Dahl book) of a patriarch in midlife crisis is sufficiently foxy. Mr. Fox has traded stealing chickens for a day job as a columnist, a wife and a freaky outcast son. Yet something’s missing, because a fox is made to steal chickens. He resorts to thievery of a major corporation. That brings all sorts of hell when the owners decide to get bloody revenge.

 

Anderson has suffered for what built him up. Like what once happened one of his many heroes, Francois Truffaut, observers have unfairly thrown him into the category of “filmmaker who exhibited early brilliance but has not been able to live up to it.” Having recently re-watched The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, I feel confident in saying that that reputation won’t last, as it did not with Truffaut. However, it is nice to see Anderson laugh again and break out of his ultra-deadpan Hal Ashby phase.

 

kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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