Film Review : Fantastic Mr. Fox

Andrew Stephens, Saturday the 10th of April, 2010

Mr. This post was automatically imported from my old sandfly.net.nz blog. It may look a little weird since it was not originally written for this format. Fox was a world class chicken thief but gave it all up years ago for a quiet middle-class existence when his child was born. He still yearns for some old-time larceny and naturally jumps at the chance for one last big score. Things do not go entirely to plan and Mr. Fox's grand schemes may have grave consequences for his family and friends. Is Mr. Fox as fantastic as he believes himself to be?

Fantastic Mr. Fox is on the surface a fairly straight-forward children's tale of talking animals vs mean humans. But director Wes Anderson infuses the story with his own brand of obsessive observation and the result is a mixed if enjoyable bag. The stop-motion animation is a throwback to the stiffly animated kiddy shows of the past such as the old Wind in the Willows show - it makes Wallace and Gromit look positively realistic. I found this to be charming, but heaven knows what anyone born after 1990 would think of it.

Some of the scenes may be a little talky for young children and a lot of the humour is wry rather than slapstick gags. Also, identifying with the main character is fairly hard, the film does not shy away from showing Mr Fox's flaws. This makes for an interesting plot, but I doubt we will see Mr Fox's face showing up on kids lunch boxes.

It is actually quite hard to see who Fantastic Mr. Fox is aimed at - it doesn't have the universal appeal of Wallace and Gromit, nor can I imagine teenagers really liking it. If I was paranoid I would suspect it was aimed directly at me.

Recommended if you like this sort of thing.