Fantastic Mr Fox Review: We Can Dig This
While Mr Fox falls just short of being truly fantastic, he certainly is very good.
A star-spangled cast has more than done justice to a well-loved tale and created an inventively hilarious film which is as charming as it is original – Roald Dahl would have been pleased.
As most of us know, Fantastic Mr Fox follows the story of a fantastic woodland animal with a sense of ambition to match, as he struggles against farm owners, Boggis, Bunce and Bean (who – as the rhyme informs us – are all equally mean).
But director Wes Anderson has added extra zing to the already immensely popular fable, and this stop-motion animation movie includes a few new characters and some seriously entertaining story augmentation.
George Clooney is a strong lead as the debonair title character, and he is well supported by the excellent Bill Murray, who provides the voice for his best friend – and lawyer – Badger.
It is these little additions that transform this from a superb children’s short story into a great feature film, and the original plot is not chopped but decorated with constant elaboration to flesh it out.
Some particular highlights include the rabid beagle guard-dog, the animals hiring an estate agent to move house, and the fact that Mr Fox now has a column in the local paper.
This must have been one of the real joys of starting with such a short book – all the old stuff could be retained, and the director’s license to supplement was not hindered.
One overriding theme of the new piece is Mr Fox’s relationships with his son and nephew (in the book there had been several cubs who were utterly nameless and referred to, rather than developed as characters). Since they were extending the premise anyway, this seemed like a very logical step and it works well.
The support of household names like Meryl Streep, Willem Dafoe, Jarvis Cocker and Michael Gambon, to name but a few, also gives the film a heavyweight feel it probably deserves, and the subtle comedy which existed is also built upon significantly by Anderson.
Changing the word ‘curse’ to a woodland swearword is especially imaginative.
This all adds up to a very satisfying result for the film-makers, they have successfully extended Dahl’s legacy without diminishing the spirit of his work.