Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox ★★★★★

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

This review may contain spoilers.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is stylistically superb with its storybook whimsy, dollhouse set-design, witty dialogue, and 1960s pop rock music. I could talk about that all day, and maybe another review will just be about it’s aesthetic and stunning animation. However, i’m so wrapped up in it’s themes that I have just now noticed today: toxic masculinity. 

This film begins with Mr. Fox on a squab-stealing jaunt with his wife, Mrs. Fox. During their “date”, Mr. Fox constantly draws out but ignores Mrs. Fox’s cautious advice and engages them in dangerous, but very exciting, acts. This scene concludes with Mr. Fox’s ignorance leading them to be caged in a trap. Mrs. Fox announces her pregnancy and makes him promise to find a safer line of work. To escape their demise, they dig into the ground and create a burrow for themselves. 

The movie immediately fast forwards twelve fox years later, and Mr. Fox is having a mid-life crisis. He’s tired of writing for the newspaper, and now wants to start stealing again. He’s tired of living in a burrow, and now wants to live in a tree. He’s tired of fathering his unathletic son, and now wants to father his “perfect” nephew. 

And boy—his life sure does change. A result of this change is the loss of his tail. A tail is the most noticeable aspect of a fox, or any animal for that matter, because it’s the main part that’s different from us humans. Mr. Fox is so glued to the modern world: he wears human clothes, speaks a human language, and writes for a human-inspired newspaper. His tail serves as his link to the natural world, and a reminder of who he really is. But then, his tail gets shot off. His most apparent symbol of the natural world and masculinity...gone. Also, Mr. Bean does not simply hang it on a wall like a trophy—he wears it as a tie. A tie he proudly presents. A tie from a wild animal. A tie he shot himself. It’s the most masculine type of tie he could ever wear. 

Mr. Fox losing his tail gave me a deeper insight to the character and the movie themselves. When Kristofferson is kidnapped, he and his community realize they have to reject their human careers and discover their natural Latin names. In a rousing speech, Mr. Fox celebrates his communities in-born, natural talents. They must reform back to their wild hearts to save Kristofferson and fight the unnatural humans. Mr. Fox’s speech can also be seen as him saying that he doesn’t need his tail to be a man. 

Mr. Fox and his friends use their animalistic powers to go into the farmhouse. Mr. Fox’s son, Ash, uses his natural abilities to retrieve his dad’s tail, but not to save Kristofferson. By luck, the cage falls to the ground and breaks into pieces. Ash uses Kristofferson’s humanistic karate technique saves him (even though he messes up), not the animalistic way. The animals never return to their natural home, but to a manmade sewer and an supermarket, with artificial lighting and food. In many ways, Mr. Fox’s idiotic, masculine tendencies ruined his family and friends’ lives. 

Mr. Fox’s impulses are best represented with his relationship with the Wolf. He wants to be exactly like the Wolf, yet is apprehensive of him. Mr. Fox is loving his pure, wild masculine side—while also fearing it. The Wolf is his masculine ideal. But, the wolf doesn’t speak a human language. The wolf doesn’t wear human clothes. The wolf doesn’t have any human qualities. Mr. Fox comes to terms with the reality: he is more of a human than wolf. 

I have so much more I wanna say, but for now I’ll leave it at that. Time to add this to my favorites!

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