Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Fantastic Mr. Fox</strong> (2009)

(In theatres, December 2009) I have trouble dealing with We Anderson’s oddball sensibilities, and wasn’t feeling all that confident that I would like Fantastic Mr. Fox, especially given the unappealing design aesthetics of the stop-motion mode used in the film.  And, for a few moments at the beginning of the film, it doesn’t look good: The humour seems based more on incongruity and discomfort than anything else, and the film looks just as ugly as in the trailer.  But not much more than fifteen minutes in the film, something happens and the film gradually grows more and more interesting.  The stop-motion aspect recedes (when it comes back, it’s to wonder at the way it’s being used to show us something), the characters fill up, the humour broadens and the real story begins.  What follows contains a lot of innovation, comedic riffs that feel both fresh and familiar, a small-scale epic battle of wits and a fantastic voice performance by George Clooney.  It ends up, fairly easily, being my favourite Anderson films yet, with a dash of hope that he will learn something from the experience.  But even if he decides to go back to more annoying projects, Fantastic Mr. Fox will remain a small wonder: Witty, hip, deadpan and a bit subversive (there’s a sustained gag about the word “cuss” replacing another word that took me far too long to notice.)  If there’s an issue with the film, it’s an impression that it’s being a bit too self-indulgent for its own good, that it could have been just a touch more accessible.  But that may just be my residual wariness about Anderson’s films.  One thing’s for sure: This is one animated film that will be most appreciated by adults than their kids.

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