Featuring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Jason Schwartzman. Rated G. Opens Wednesday, November 25, at the Cinemark Tinseltown
The nattily dressed creatures in Fantastic Mr. Fox might be wild animals—or puppet figures thereof, shot in delirious stop-motion animation—but they are first and foremost characters in a Wes Anderson movie. Working again with his Life Aquatic cowriter, Noah Baumbach, the terminally stylish director here takes on Roald Dahl’s 1970 tale of a fox who pushes the local farmers too far.
Watch the trailer for Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The fact that said Mr. Fox is voiced by George Clooney tells you that there’s always going to be some Danny Ocean swimming around inside this Vulpes vulpes, despite his attempts at aboveground domestication. I mean, the fellow even writes a society column in the local animal rag. A former chicken plucker par excellence, Fox has stayed clean for his long-suffering wife (Meryl Streep) and their frazzled offspring (Jason Schwartzman). Both live in Dad’s rakish shadow, and the arrival of an athletic nephew (directorial sibling Eric Anderson) throws this furry family out of balance, somehow prompting Dad to pull “one last job” against the three meanest farmers in the region.
The beautifully sculpted landscape is based on the area around Dahl’s own English countryside, and the film’s topography may say even more about Anderson’s obsession with details than it does about this story of civilization versus our carnal natures. Its florid design does manage to honour Quentin Blake’s original drawings without sticking to their style, and the archaic rock tunes add to the whimsy. This enchanting and ceaselessly surprising film, which also features Bill Murray, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, and Jarvis Cocker in smaller roles, shortchanges the females of the various species, and it tries a bit too hard to brighten the author’s downbeat ending. But Fox and friends have dug their hole, and we are more than happy to live in it.