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Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Year: 2009
Director: Wes Anderson

This is the only Wes Anderson film I've seen to date (not counting the Squid and the Whale, which is kind of his brain child but wasn't directed by him), and I don't know why I haven't seen more of his stuff. Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the greatest animated movies ever made, and easily the best animated movie of 2009 (sorry Mary and Max and Up), if not the best picture period. It's got everything you want from both a kid's movie and an adult movie. There are plenty of quirky and adult jokes as well as fun action and characters for kids. Literally anyone can enjoy this movie.

Mr. Fox was a poultry hunter, and he was very good at it. Until he began to have a family, and had his kid Ash. He promised to give up catching birds, as it was a dangerous, job, and in the twelve years since has become a newspaperman. However, he's not satisfied with his job. So when he buys a new house and sees that his "neighbors" are three of the most brutal farmers in the world (Boggis, Bunce, and Beans) he can't resist one last foray into his old job.

Mr. Fox is a likable character. He's also a very believable character, voiced impeccably by the great George Clooney (oh, and his wife is Meryl Streep, along with Bill Murray voicing a smaller role for Badger). He lives in a world in which animals are civilized and "human," but one of the major themes and conflicts of this movie is actually Fox's smaller conflict with himself about being wild and "true" or being civilized and "fake." This is made clear by his phobia of wolves. At the very end, when we finally see a wolf all out in the wilderness, we actually see him begin to cry. It's an incredibly profound moment in the midst of a story that's deceptively "fun" and "non-thematic." We never get a clear answer to Fox's problems with himself and the world, but at the end he's happy, so something must have worked.

Oh, and the soundtrack has got to be in my top ten film scores of all time. It might be in the top five, actually. I love it that much. Alexandre Desplat should have won the Oscar for this score, getting robbed once again by Up. I can understand it, honestly. Up is certainly in my top twenty film scores of all time. But Fantastic Mr. Fox has a totally unique flavor, mixed in with songs like "Heroes and the Villains" and "Davy Crockett" and some Rolling Stones song I can't remember, plus much, much more. It's just brilliant, and I wouldn't change a thing about this masterpiece of a soundtrack.

The visuals I think are often criticized for being ugly and mushy looking. I can understand that. In fact, that is the main reason that I had to choose Wall-E over Fantastic Mr. Fox. But I still really like the visuals of Fantastic Mr. Fox, they have impressive clay-motion design and a real color scheme (lots of browns, reds, and oranges - autumn colors). And when I think about it, this really is an autumnal movie. Right from the beginning we get pictures of corn fields in many different shades of brown and orange. It's beautiful, really. And Bean's apple cider cellar always reminds of Fall for some reason as well. So yeah. Watch this movie in Fall I guess?

There isn't a character in this movie that I find annoying, and for a comedy, that's pretty impressive. Almost every animated movie that goes for comedy I can find at least one character that I don't like in it. Fantastic Mr. Fox does have a comic relief character - Kylie - but come on, how can you not love Kylie? As Mr. Fox says, "Listen, you're Kylie. You're an unbelievably nice guy. Your job is really just to... be available, I think. I don't know your Latin name. I doubt they even had opossums in ancient Rome."

And speaking of that quote, the script is damn good. There are as many quotable moments as in The Incredibles (or Wall-E for that matter). Mrs. Fox: "If I think what's happening is happening... it better not be." The scene with Fox and Badger is very well written, as are Kristoffreson and Ash's encounters.

So, yeah. This is one of my top twenty movies of all time, and easily in my top ten animated movies of all time. If you like Wes Anderson and somehow haven't seen this yet, go see it. I doubt I will like a Wes Anderson film more than this, or maybe I will, I'll have to check out more of his stuff.