Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Dir: Wes Anderson

Yes, yes, a rarity in my life that I saw something in a movie theater, but it was something I could drag the kids too. And often when you hear about or discuss a movie with other parents, someone usually says, "it was a kid's movie, but there were jokes for the adults in there to keep us interested". I would have to say that the exact opposite is true for Anderson's first foray into animation. This is a film for grown-ups with just enough jokes thrown in for kids to keep them interested. That and a box of Nerds. The story is about Mr. and Mrs. Fox who are living the free and easy life as bird thieves until they find out they are going to have a kid. They retire and Mr. Fox goes to work for the paper and Mrs. stays home to raise their insecure son. Fox has all the worries of a modern adult, mortgage, money, success, a father's desire to see his child succeed, but mostly, he deals with the fact that he wants to be seen as "fantastic" by everyone in his life. He hits a sort of fox mid-life crisis and returns to his former life of crime by planning and trying to pull off some heists on the local farmers. This, of course, goes badly and he calls too much attention to the local wildlife. The farmers come hunting and are willing to destroy anything to get to the fox. Mr. Fox has brought down a punishment that effects his friends and family all because he could not accept his modest, happy home life. He desired too much. A (if you will) fantastic message in today's society where most of the population seems to be clamoring to appear on TV for no discernible reason. Fame without achievement or talent is the flavor of the day and Mr. Fox must lose his tail and almost everyone around him to discover this valuable lesson. To just be happy with what you have. It's a stop motion film and The Wind in the Willows is really the first and only visual comparison that immediately comes to mind. It evokes the feeling of someone that grew up in the seventies but doesn't directly reference anything in particular. Anderson has come along with his use of music since Rushmore. While he does find a way to work in songs from the sixties, it never feels like a continuous advertisement for the soundtrack CD. This is another example of what an unusually strong year it was for what are considered childrens films, along with Ponyo and Where the Wild Things Are, one of my favorite movies of 2009.


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