Film #183: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

fmfDirector: Wes Anderson
Language: English with a bit of French
Length: 84 minutes
Watched on: 26 February 2016

I mentioned in the previous video that I was sick in February with flu-like symptoms, but I didn’t bother going to a doctor because I thought it would get better by itself (spoiler alert: it didn’t, and I got an ear infection), but I decided to watch this movie so that I can at least say I watched something in February (I hate missing a month like that). I was a little delirious when watching it, I think.

I can’t remember any details the Roald Dahl book this was based off of, but I remember it fondly, as a short story that was pithy and funny. Some details came back to me when I watched the movie, but not a lot. It’s the story of Mr Fox, who tries to break into three nearby farms to steal meat and drink from the old men. A lot of details have been added, as it’s one of those movies that was liberally based on a short story, so I’m pretty sure Mr Fox’s family is completely new, as are most of the settings and a lot of other animal characters.

This movie is peak Wes Anderson – in fact, I’ve seen it argued, and I’d agree, that it’s even more archetypical of his movies than his non-animated stuff, as he doesn’t need to bother with real movie sets and people. OK, I guess that’s not to say it’s not funny. But the way of dressing sets to look like postcards wore thin on me during The Grand Budapest Hotel and it wore on me here too – plus here, the characters all stand up dead straight and don’t look real as a result. It’s probably deliberate.

The style of animation was one of those where the characters are constantly vibrating a bit – I think this is excusable since it’s actually made with stop motion instead of CGI, if I remember correctly, but the effect can be annoying at best. I think it was also filmed at a lower-than-usual frame rate, to amplify that effect, however, so that I’m not so keen on.

As for all the extra characters and details, it shifts the focus onto an American family unit drama, with one of the conflicts being between the overachieving cousin and the underachieving son. I wasn’t very interested in that, I was more up for seeing Mr Fox one-up the evil farmers.

But basically the movie works, and delivers its purpose. I also like the idea of Roald Dahl turning in his grave over it, since the more I know about him, the less I like him, even though I still like his books a lot. I just think I’d be better off reading the book of this than watching the movie.

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