Friday, December 18, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” from Foxy Wes Anderson
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

These days I’m acting as editorial director for The Saturday Evening Post. Going through its archives, in the August 1, 1942, issue, I came across the first fiction ever published by Roald Dahl. As you may recall, Dahl wrote such children’s classics as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach.”
Dahl also penned “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” an animal story that has been turned into a delightful film by director Wes Anderson.

This stop-motion animated film tells the story of a chicken-stealing fox who after a narrow escape vows to give up his old ways. Bu a few years later he relapses, using the excuse that he’s just a wild animal. Three local farmers decide to trap the varmint, but Mr. Fox digs his den deeper, linking his family up with other underground denizens. As things gets dicier, Mr. Fox and his gang raid the three farms, taking all the chickens, geese, and turkeys.

As you can imagine, the farmers redouble their efforts to trap the arrogant fox, bringing in such armament as guns, hoses, and bulldozers. But who will win – farmers or fox?

George Clooney lends his voice as Mr. Fox. A greater use of his talent than when he was billed on early episodes of TV’s “South Park” in the non-speaking role of Sparky the Dog.

Meryl Streep steps in as Mrs. Fox, the vixen who wants her husband to settle down.
And no Wes Anderson film would be complete without a couple of his regular actors: Jason Schwartzman (“I Heart Huckabees”) is the Foxes’ son. Bill Murray (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”) is the Badger, a lawyer. Owen Wilson (“The Darjeeling Limited”) is Coach Skip. Wallace Wolodarsky (“Rushmore”) is Kylie the Opossum. And Wes’s brother Eric Chase Anderson is cast as the Foxes’ nephew.

Also heard are the voices of Michael Gambon (the “Harry Potter” films) as one of the farmers, Jarvis Cocker (frontman for the band Pulp) as Petey, and Willem Dafoe (“Antichrist”) appropriately as the Rat.

If you like the cinematic eccentricities of Wes Anderson, you’ll love the inventive wit of “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” And everyone eight and over will enjoy the moral: What makes you different is what makes you special.

Just as true for people as for foxes.
[from Solares Hill]

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