One day, I was browsing around for a nice animated film to lift my spirits. It wasn’t a day for serious stuff, oh no, I had specifically wanted to find something light-hearted, wacky and hopefully brazen with its own unique style. I don’t believe that movies are necessarily confined by a certain mold; So in this case, animated films need not be entirely childish and simplistic. I was eager to find something that would fulfil this novelty and satisfy my craving. Though it’s not the first nor will it be the last movie to do this, Fantastic Mr.Fox is a hugely sensitive film that’s more shrewd than the pesky apple-cidar gaurding shrew and wily than your average fox.
Sometimes disconcerting, sometimes thought-provoking and other times utterly hilarious, Wes Anderson’s one-of-a-kind style floods the screen. It’s somewhat similar to the weird, tune-heavy, ‘scouting for a scout’ coming-of-age movie Moonrise Kingdom. Fantastic Mr.Fox is also a heavy mix of themes that spans from the deep waters of self-made vs predisposed identity to the ludicrous and totally silly action scenes i.e deadly dogs giving Mr.Fox a good run for his life. Personally, it was so awesome seeing the intense fun contrasted to the serious reflective moments. The main character here’s Mr.Fox, whose deviousness and guile lands him from one incident to the next adventure. The very first sequence encapsulates the film’s style. In a tricky situation that leaves us guessing what fate belies the couple, Wes Anderson leaves us pondering with much to hope for but can’t help but prompt the question, “Is everything really going to be fine?”
Mr. Fox: [sighs] Who am I, Kylie?
Kylie: Who how? What now?
Mr. Fox: Why a fox? Why not a horse, or a beetle, or a bald eagle? I’m saying this more as, like, existentialism, you know? Who am I? And how can a fox ever be happy without, you’ll forgive the expression, a chicken in its teeth?
Kylie: I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it sounds illegal.
Wes Anderson’s stop-motion style with puppets is similar to this year’s Anomalisa, an animated film that deals with much deeper and more mature issues, and doesn’t readily provide the humour and catharsis that’s found here. While a Anomalisa drew introspection from some ennui, Fantastic Mr.Fox works is the total opposite: It is robust. It’s fast-paced on the go style is mainly attributed to the theme of raiding- raiding for food and raiding for space and revenge. Taken along on the crazy ride, Fantastic Mr.Fox keeps the children entertained while providing some interesting and relatable points that will connect with an older audience. Mr.Fox’s early raids give you a sense of joviality and bubbles a sense of anticipation inside you, all the while giving you glimpses of Mr.Fox’s insatiable animal instinct at work. And as you continue to watch the drama unfold, you find yourself going back and forth on how you should begin to judge the characters while the story bursts forward regardless.
Seeded beneath all the weirdly gratifying humour, Fantastic Mr.Fox does a few things very well. Wes Anderson has a way of trying to inject a serious point without ever being too harsh or realistic. Especially with the adorable and magnetic characters on screen in all their bona fide puppet looks and style, children will be hopelessly in a trance. So you’d think Anderson had to wreck his brains trying to appeal to all ages but Anderson’s trademark idiosyncratic charm is a perfect fit for the film. So you’d think Anderson has to wreck his brains trying to appeal to all ages but his trademark idiosyncratic charm is exactly what’s needed. Like an artist with the complete freedom of expression, he creates a film so spritely it feeds off its own energy and the weight of the mature themes it accents without being overbearing. When Felicity (Mr.Fox’s wife) kisses her husband while lamenting that he neglects family time, son comes out all flustered and furious, complaining about the need to brush his teeth. The cat and mouse game between Mr.Fox and family and the three despicable farmers are grave in nature but light in approach. I mean you just can’t help but laugh how horrible these ‘baddies’ look but a little while later, you too will question Mr.Fox’s supposed ‘hero’ projection. It’s easy to side with him at first but even he points out himself that there’s nothing necessarily good or bad; It’s about survival. Wes Anderson’s unique puppets make life seem larger than what we perceive it to be and more wild and complex than we’d ever dream of. The quirky and mature dialogue adds to the film’s appeal across the board, lifting it once more into the realm of being serious in a farcical manner. Like most of Wes Anderson’s films, it is multi-generational and would definitely appeal to everyone.
Ash: What’s that white stuff around his mouth?
Kylie: I think he eats soap.
Mr. Fox: That’s not soap.
Kylie: Wha- why does he have that…
Mr. Fox: He’s rabid. With rabies.
This isn’t a typical movie about foxes and farmers. It’s not your run-of-the-mill animal vs human tale. Interestingly, it does actually involves a missing tail. Character-wise, there’s a stoned out Oppossum, a foxy couple, their son who feels threatened when his cousin Kristofferson seems to beat him at everything, and all other animals likes Rabbits, Otters, Weasels and Beavers. In the end, Fantastic Mr.Fox feels so complete. It feels like Wes Anderson just opened up a whole new perspective on the farm animals and spotlights a crises between animal and man, as well as encompassing ideas of family, pride and identity. Just as the wolf waves it’s goodbye and goodluck, we too, leave the movie wishing these characters the same. The stop-motion animation style only adds to our growing attachment to the animals, whose slightly static movements linger on long enough to feel more real before moving on to the next frame. Contrasted to the non-stop throbbing rhythm of the film,it creates a whimsical and yet growing sense of the present now.
Rating: 9.3/10 The soundtrack is delightful. There’s also a scene (below) *SPOILER ALERT* where some people seem to think is out-of-place, but I think it’s actually a very deep and meaningful scene. For those who have already seen, I want to discuss and hear your views on it 🙂 Oh and this is my favourite Wes Anderson film!
Awesome poster image by George Townley, check out his website!!!
Images and gifs credited to 20th Century Fox, Indian Paintbrush, Regency Enterprises, American Empirircal Pictures, Scott Rudin Pictures and Dune Entertainment.