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Thursday, November 12, 2009

FANTASTIC MR. FOX

By D.E.Levine

Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach (screenplay), Roald Dahl (novel)
Cast: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wallace Wolodarsky, Eric Chase Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Jarvis Cocker, Wes Anderson, Karen Duffy, Robin Huristone, Hugo Guinness, Helen McCrory, Roman Coppola, Juman Malouf, Jeremy Dawson, Garth Jennings, Brian Cox, Tristan Oliver, James Hamilton, Steven M. Rales, Rob Hersov, Jennifer Furches, Allison Abbate, Molly Cooper, Adrien Brody, Mario Batali, Martin Ballard
Producers: Allison Abbate, Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson and Scott Rudin
Executive Producers: Arnon Milchan and Steven M. Rales
Co-Producer: Molly Cooper
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Genre: Animated, Comedy, Satire, Fantasy

Fantastic Mr. Fox is truly fantastic. True to the Roald Dahl's childrens' book of 1970, the film tells the story of a fox family and extended clan of animals who successfully elude capture and annihilation by human predators.

While this season is full of CGI-augmented animation, this film is pure animation without CGI and full of Wes Anderson trademarks. It should appeal to a gown up audience as well as children.

Another lure is the wonderful professional cast who voice the characters and a soundtrack of popular favorites from every genre of music.

Mr. Fox is a natty dresser and a rogue who poaches regularly from three nasty farmers named Boggis, Bunch and Bean. The farmers want his pelt very badly.

After a near disaster when they are captured outside of a chicken coop and his mate announces she's pregnant, they escape.

Anderson then jumps forward a couple of years where we find that Mrs. Fox, who is equally fastidiously attired as her husband, has made Mr. Fox give up poaching, settle down and support his family.

Bored with his job and feeling cramped in their underground quarters, Mr. Fox moves his family to a tree. He's haunted by feelings of wanting to steal chickens.

Obvious to viewers are the U.K. landscape and language of the humans which is in stark contrast to the American accented animals.

Although he's had his tale shot off by one of the farmers who's wearing it as a tie, things seem to be going smoothly until the farmers launch a combined assault on the Foxes and their friends because Mr. Fox, true to animal nature, has fallen off the wagon and gone back to poaching.

The idea here that animal nature cannot be avoided or escaped and animals will revert to it regardless of their thoughtful desires and efforts, makes a strong statement.

In order to escape, the Fox family and their friends dig rapidly and furiously through numerous layers of earth in order to stay ahead of their pursuing enemies.

While digging through these earthern layers scenes that are vividly represented on the screen) Mr. Fox burrows into each of the three farmers properties and steals enough for a major feast among the animals.

The Foxes have one son who is uncertain about living up to his father's high expectations. Other animals who flee with them have their own hangups and uncertainties.

As the animals flee the humans they are challenged to maintain their individual personalities and draw upon their character strengths, some of which they don't even realize they poss

The animals are poised and sophisticated, indeed more so than the human farmers. Appearing highly civilized and well attired, they fall back on their natural animal instincts and ways during arguments and when sitting down to their feast.

The running humor about the differences and similarities between the animals and the humans is always apparent.

Anderson admits that portions of his direction were done remotely while in other parts of the world than where actual filming was taking place. This was also true for some of the voice recordings. None of this seems to have adversely affected the film.

His style is deliberately jerky and he strives for a vintage look rather than the smooth, polished look in most current animated films. Yet his characters are believable and seem wonderfully imaginative and alive.