Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This is, indeed, Fantastic.

I don't know that I would call this my favorite Wes Anderson film. I'm really not even sure what my favorite Wes Anderson film is. (It would be among this, Rushmore, The Life Aquatic, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Moonrise Kingdom; all 9/10 for me.)

I do know that Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the most delightful and heart-warming films I've ever had the pleasure of seeing, and I do know that it's got a great case for being the Best Animated Film of the 21st Century.

Almost everything here is impressive. The voice acting from Clooney, Streep, Schwartzman, Wilson, Murray, et al is perfect, everyone nailing their character's motivations and eccentricities with their tone and inflections.

The music—from the "eerie" children's song about Boggis, Bunce, and Bean and its later augmented reprisal to the Jarvis Cocker-voiced Petey's "bad song" filled with hilarious gibberish—is funny, fitting, and a genuine pleasure to listen to. The score is likewise wonderful.

The most impressive aspect may be the stop-motion animation, from the character design to the set-pieces and the way that they're filmed. There's tremendous detail that greatly rewards the viewer on re-watches (my favorite is the graffiti in the background near the climax that reads "CUSS"), and the animation is spellbinding, consistently colorful and intricate and occasionally gorgeous. That amazing detail is complemented by Anderson's trademark penchant for composition, as well as engaging and creative editing.

The story is told in lightning quick fashion with nearly zero downtime, and given that it's 87 minutes anyway, this one really flies by.

My only gripe is that it does seem Mr. Fox's internal conflict of being a wild animal versus being a responsible father never really gets solved so much as pointed out. After all, the final solution that ends up working out is just another of his crazy plans, but this time it's one that involves everyone and it works out with no hitches for no other reason than that we want the good guys to win.

On that note, the penultimate scene with the wolf is also a bit out of place and difficult to organize within the film's message. It's pretty and touching thanks to the vocalizing behind the dialogue, the silhouette, and the excellent composition, but in terms of bare-bones meaningfulness, I'm struggling to view it as essential or even belonging.

Still, this is a towering achievement in stop-motion animation and a comedy-filled, exhilarating thrill ride of a picture.

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