A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

March 23, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox

This is a Wes Anderson movie.  By which I do not simply mean that it is written and directed by Wes Anderson (although it undeniably is.)  What I mean is that when you settle down to watch this movie you’ve got to be prepared for a certain particular kind of anarchy.  Because Wes Anderson has made a career out of making Wes Anderson movies.  He’s created his own genre of film.  You have your action films, your dramas and comedies, and then there’s your Wes Anderson movies.

“I’m not different… am I?”

“We all are.  Especially him.  But that’s kind of fantastic.”

If you know what to expect from these movies then you might, as I did, think it odd that this is purportedly a children’s movie.  Wes Anderson doesn’t seem likely to make children’s movies.  He makes movies for himself, and I love him for it.  His films are full of neurotic characters who don’t really know what they want and are fundamentally flawed.  Things don’t turn out the way you’d expect them to.  And although the characters rarely get what it was they wanted, they usually find a way to come to grips with being themselves.  So how does that work in a mainstream Hollywood animated film?

The answer is: particularly well.  For one thing the movie is based on a book by Roald Dahl.  Roald Dahl is a very strange author who writes very strange books which don’t pander to children.  It’s actually a perfect fit.

For another thing there’s the animation in this film.  It isn’t concerned with being perfect.  It isn’t all clean lines and smooth surfaces like an early Pixar film.  The fur is mussed, the human puppets are almost gruesome (though quite expressive) and the fire and explosions are all paper cut outs and cotton balls.  The animation itself, particularly in the wide shots, is almost joyously simple.  And yet there are a few segments that must have taken an unbelievable amount of work.

And Wes Anderson’s particular form of verbal patter is perfectly suited for this chaotic art form.  His characters are often brutally honest with each other.  Indeed it’s a trope of his work to have a character baldly and blatantly tell another character something obvious that they probably don’t want to hear about themselves.  His characters are self-absorbed, caught up in their own lives and often oblivious.  Which is strange for a children’s movie – but that’s what’s so cussing perfect about it.

All in all the movie has a great charm to it.  All of these things that on paper you wouldn’t expect to work together blend together into something strange and wonderful.

Oh, and of particular note is the eclectic sound track.  In much of the movie incidental music is replaced by the music the characters are listening to, which is a strange mix of theme songs, pop songs, and even opera.  (If you consider Porgy and Bess opera.)  And the original music for the film has a fun twangy folksy feel to it.  All of it gives the film an other-worldly quality.  It’s like a folk tale of its own, something filled with deeper references and layers.  I definitely feel like with each additional viewing I will be discovering new little tidbits and nuances that I had missed before.  (There’s so much happening in some scenes that there’s simply no way to catch it all in one viewing.)  And I do hope there will be many, many more viewings to come!


March 23, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Beyond that innovation there’s the awe inspiring animation. You may recall in my review for The Fantastic Mr. Fox I mentioned that the animation was gloriously chaotic. The animation in this movie is the opposite […]

    Pingback by Coraline « A and A's Movie A Day | April 20, 2010 | Reply

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