Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox ★★★★

Animation pairs well with Wes’ filmmaking focus. His worlds have become more simulated as he attempts to provide a greater contrast for his hyper-human characters, and how else can one better present unabashed humanity hiding beneath fabricated exteriors than to literally manufacture those characters? The tics, the word vomit, the playful way Mr. Fox and his friends stumble upon ideal scenarios or unwittingly orchestrate the machinations of their own peril feel so spectacularly real because we recognize what little work it takes to see ourselves within these blatantly-inanimate critters. It’s in the way in which Ash refuses to give up seeing himself as an athlete despite the evidence defying him, min which Mrs. Fox can accept with conviction that she loves the choices she’s made and would absolutely not make them again if given the chance, and in which Mr. Fox can easily recognize that he’s risking more and more people each time he gives into his existential urges and yet he cannot help himself.

Of the myriad forms of animation, stop-motion animation most perfectly accentuates the tweed master’s sensibilities. Stop-motion retains the tactility of live-action while removing the constraints of how things move or behave in reality. It’s the mirror opposite of what’s done to the characters. Plus, unlike live-action, everything shown onscreen in an animated feature is an active decision, from the color of a sidewalk to the text on a sign in the background. The textures in Fantastic Mr. Fox, so vivid you can smell badger fur and apple cider, ground the hundreds upon hundreds of intentional details throughout this film to make the extraordinary mundane.

Other films in the man’s oeuvre may say more about the way we deal with truths we we cannot accept or pains we can’t forget, but Fantastic Mr. Fox does so with flair and energy he’s never matched. It’s a great gateway into his filmography: the medium offers a bridge through which newcomers can live with his look, sense of humor, and tonal comfort zone that’s only aided by the expectations brought about by seeing handmade critters in clothes outwit farmers. And it wears uniqueness its with pride. 

“We're all different…But there's something kind of fantastic about that, isn't there?”

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