Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox ★★★★★

One of my favorite things about being a dad is sharing my passions and hobbies with my son, enriching his life with all the music, movies, and more that I've accumulated over four decades, giving him a head start on the arts that I never could have had in a pre-internet age. From the day he came into this world, I've been filling the house with music of every style I can find, saturating the air with anything from ambient jazz to dub techno to funky disco to black metal and beyond. From the moment he's been able to sit down and pay attention to movies, I've been showing him more and more of the great family classics I grew up loving, as well as plenty of modern bangers as he reaches each appropriate age level. It's amazing to see his eyes light up, his attention deepen, and his mind go reeling when he's locked into a great film and absorbing it in a way that would put our adult brains to shame. There's really nothing like hearing "I loved that movie!!" and watching his little jump-spin of joy when the credits hit.

You know how awesome it feels when you meet a new friend and you show them one of your favorite movies and they totally connect with it and you end up talking about it forever, maybe even quoting and referencing it back and forth for weeks? Somehow feels even better when it's your own little human growing up and absorbing the world and humanity and the art we're capable of creating. You can practically see new frontiers blossoming in their eyes when they've met a piece of music, a book, a movie that literally changed the way they think and expanded their realm of possibilities. It's a ton of work and it's not for everyone and I respect anyone who has no interest in parenting, but damn it feels rewarding sometimes and I love capturing those moments and holding on to them, sustaining me through even the toughest days.

So with that being said, I bought my son Fantastic Mr. Fox - his first Criterion edition, at age five! We watched together on the last night before his mother came home from the hospital last month, and you could just feel the warmth radiating from the screen, permeating our cozy little space on the sofa, wrapped in a blanket and munching popcorn together. In fact, I might say this is Wes Anderson's warmest and coziest movie, full stop. I may have a deep soft spot for Rushmore (it was my first, way back when I was 15!) and shed tears for The Royal Tenenbaums but this gorgeous stop-motion Roald Dahl adaptation might be the director's most perfect creation. It's a hermetically sealed little universe of whimsy and humor and beauty and love, magically packed into eighty seven minutes that fly by at rocket speed. Every time I revisit, I remember the electric buzz as everyone stood up as "Let Her Dance" by the Bobby Fuller Four blasted away during the end credits, opening weekend in Manhattan thirteen years ago. It remains one of my favorite theater experiences, and the song remains a perfect capper to this joyous caper. But now, I'll always think of getting up and dancing with my son in our living room, finally feeling a little joy ourselves after a long month of waiting and uncertainty.

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