Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox ★★★★

The thing that always sneaks up on me when it comes to Wes Anderson films is just how DARK they are. "Moonrise Kingdom" contains a dog murder, infidelity, and a married couple slowly coming to terms with the fact that they should get divorced. "The Royal Tenenbaums" deals with the drastic effects that a deadbeat father can have on a family, and an attempted suicide. "The Grand Budapest Hotel," despite its charming and sumptuous production design, contains a CAT murder, about 10 grizzly human murders, and a main character whose family has been slaughtered by a Nazi-equivalent army.

"Fantastic Mr. Fox", arguably Anderson's only kid’s movie (no, "Isle of Dogs" does not count), is probably the darkest, most mature kids movie ever released. It's about the harsh and everlasting consequences of selfish actions. Shit hits the fan almost immediately after Fox relapses on the drug that is thiefin'. Not only does he cause the destruction of his home, but he causes the ENTIRE neighborhood to be destroyed and everyone, including his own family and other women and children, to be viciously pursued by humans who want to murder them. Not catch them, not teach them a lesson, but MURDER them. Holy..... shit!. And with every plan that Fox brews up and executes, everyone THINKS they are in the clear, but they've really only literally and figuratively dug themselves deeper down into trouble.

Imagine being a parent and bringing your child to a stop-motion movie about woodland animals where our main character entertains the idea of giving himself up to the humans (so, committing suicide) just to stop his family and friends from being slaughtered? Then imagine that after this conversation, our main character's wife admits that they probably shouldn't have gotten married. This film is just so dark and real and I absolutely loved it. Most kid’s movies shy away from these grim, real-life themes, but "Fantastic Mr. Fox" deals with these themes head-on. And everything isn't tied up nicely with a big bow at the end - our characters have gone through absolute hell, they've been displaced from their homes, and it's only a matter of time before they'll have to go on the run again - all because our dear ol' Foxie wanted to do some thiefin'.

The stop-motion work is exceptional and this film is a beauty to behold. The now-famous "sewer-waterfall" shot is one of the most striking images I have ever seen in an animated film. The amount of painstaking work that went into not just the stop-motion animation, but the set design, camerawork, and soundtrack/score, is immeasurable. Anderson is known for his immaculate mise-en-scene, but this film cements Anderson as the KING of mise-en-scene - every shot containing hundreds of small details in the background that you need to pause the movie every few seconds to truly appreciate. What a cussing great film!

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