Fantastic Mr. Fox Directed by: Wes Anderson Written by: Wes Anderson (screenplay), Roald Dahl (book) Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray
The world of awkward young males and disapproving father figures often associated with the world of Wes Anderson is polarizing. You have those who absolutely despise his style and those who absolutely love it. Typically I fall into the former. For all his faults, though, he does have a style. Had I seen Fantastic Mr. Fox before Mr. Anderson’s other features, I’d have wondered what he was getting at with all of the others. This is his best, most assured, most mature work , and it’s a stop-motion animation adaptation of a children’s novel.
It becomes perfectly clear in this film that all of the characters in Anderson’s other movies really were just cartoon characters. Now that they are in the literal sense, their absurdest actions look and feel right. The stop-motion techniques of the animation greatly help flesh out the emotion and style. The camera work is amateur in the best sense of the word, making this feel like chaos that came together at the last minute.
The biggest crime perpetuated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Peter Travers of Rolling Stone prefers “Farts and Biases” and I tend to agree) this year is ignoring Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. Today, you have the opportunity to partially correct that mistake by going out and renting or buying the film yourself and seeing what great work he has done.
Jonze had the audacity to adapt a 12-page, mostly illustrated children’s novel to the silver screen. Guess what? He succeeded admirably.
Wild Things is a beautifully told vision of childhood. The fears, anxieties, tribulations and joys told through the eyes of a young boy named Max (portrayed by terrific child actor Max Records) are all brought to vivid, beautiful light in this film.