Saturday, 24 October 2009

REVIEW: Fantastic Mr Fox

My first cinematic experience at Leicester Square (and probably last given they charge 9.90 for a student ticket) was suitably humbling, given that whilst the cultured people were queuing for the London film festival, me and children under the age of ten busted in undetected to see Fantastic Mr Fox. And going in with thought of its mixed reviews and the recent middling films of Wes Anderson, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. This is a seemingly new direction for Anderson, and for the first time in a while he has made a film free of the downbeat smugness and that feared middle class whining that has dragged down many other indie films aside from his own of late. He's made this movie because it was fun and as a consequence its a much more pleasurable viewing experience. It retains the dry wit, incessant deadpanning and eclectic colour scheme that sets out his earlier work only its transported into stop-motion animation. And much more importantly I got to have a good time watching one of his films for the first time since The Royal Tenenbaums.

The story is famous, so I won't spend to long setting that up, suffice to say that its about a dual of wits between Mr.Fox, and three evil farmers who set out to destroy him. This is a kids film in theory, but I have to say that parents were enjoying this film much more then their children. There were more then a few concessions twiddling their thumbs, and that may be this films problem in theory. Its a little too intelligent in its humor, subtle with its jokes and clever with its structure for kids to get too much out of the experience. I loved it however, so even if it missed its target audience, it accidentally found a different one. Of the collection of big names filling out the voice over cast, I think I enjoyed Jason Schwartzman the most, as his delivery had me repeatedly cracking up. Clooney plays Fox as maybe a slightly more competent version of his O Brother where art thou character, which works fine. Meryl Streep gets a little underused, but does fine enough. I couldn't go much further without praising how good the film looks, with Anderson's trademark visual style fitting stop-motion like a glove.

A disarmingly fun and, pleasingly for Anderson, modest experience. He doesn't try to pretentious out Roald Dahl's work and while telling his own version of it, stays true and makes the film land. A pleasingly better then expected movie.

Rating: 8/10

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