Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Posted November 12, 2009 in Film

Here’s the plot of Fantastic Mr. Fox: Mr. Fox is cool. Mr. Fox says he’ll stay cool despite imminent extermination. Mr. Fox does. That’s not an arc; that’s a hammer. Wes Anderson films are always artificial—even under the butcher knife; his characters speak in complete sentences. But at least here he’s gone full synthetic and replaced Jason Schwartzman’s mug with animated foxes, badgers, weasels and rats that truly do look fantastic. (Schwartzman’s drone, however, lives on.) Anderson and Noah Baumbach adapted the screenplay from the Roald Dahl classic, but added a swaggering element that makes the 87-minute experience feel like getting cornered at a cocktail party by the trust fund artist who keeps bragging about their connections. I’ve always felt bullied by Anderson films. Their twee perfection rings smug—Anderson is so afraid of mussing a hair, he keeps his stories simple and hermetically sealed off from the sloppy business of emotions. We don’t even have to interact with their feelings. Mr. Fox and friends don’t fib or parry, relieving us from wondering if they mean what they say. They do. Every last dull word, to the numbing, forehead-slapping moment when Schwartzman’s fox observes of a rat, “That was his moment of redemption.” Dahl wrote kids books for adults. This is an adult film for toddlers. See Fox dance. Dance, Fox, dance.

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