Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox ★★★★★

Animation has a great deal more tolerance for twee ironies and eccentricities than live action, and it's perhaps why director Wes Anderson's Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaum's fell flat for me when I watched them a decade ago, subsequently causing me to avoid anything the director has done since.

It's a great truth of cinema that what cannot be filmed can always be animated. Normally that's meant for grand scale stories that would either be too expensive or too fantastical to realize, but Anderson applies it more intimately with his tale of Mr. "Foxy" Fox, a newspaper columnist and family man, who endangers his entire clan after his craving for chicken hunting gets him in trouble with the local farmers, and they hatch a plan to kill him. In a world removed from our own, Anderson's penchant for extra long beats, ironic dialogue and deadpan delivery succeeds to a tremendous effect, making Fantastic Mr. Fox one of the most original, unique, spectacularly literate animated films of all time.

Anderson's other signatures and hallmarks are all over the film as well, including his reliance on symmetry and his specific ninety degree camera movements, creating an entire niche environment for his characters. And now it's starting to make sense to me why The Grand Budapest Hotel is so wonderful. Fantastic Mr. Fox clearly taught the director a lot about scale, and he brought that with him into his masterpiece Grand Budapest Hotel, where its sprawling, transcontinental story arc is delimited by the application of obvious miniatures, the 1:33:1 aspect ratio, and the diorama nature of many of its scenes. I hope he never stops exploring this kind of departure from realism.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a wildly entertaining ride for adults and children alike, though I suspect adults will get far more out of its seductive charms and relentless wit. Wes Anderson is a true artist, and probably the closest your kids will ever get to the auteur theory.