Christina Reynolds’s review published on Letterboxd:
I was thoroughly prepared to enjoy this film before even putting it on.
It's weird to look back on a life and realize how much of it is astoundingly blurry. To have no memorable relationships. To feel slighted by tragedy. To not now simmer in the joy that is often expected with nostalgia.
When it comes to novels, however, the recollections are of a stark contrast in terms of clarity. I remember the first book I ever read (𝑪𝒉𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒐𝒕𝒕𝒆'𝒔 𝑾𝒆𝒃). The first book I ever owned (𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑮𝒊𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑻𝒓𝒆𝒆).
The first book I ever loved. The first author I felt connected with.
𝑭𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒄 𝑴𝒓. 𝑭𝒐𝒙 (2009) Is only one of the many books from Roald Dahls’ collections that has given me comfort when it was needed the most. To push play, for me, is like bumping into an old friend. . . .
There is not enough to be sad about the meticulous attention to detail taken in the animation and cinematography Department; a total of 535 different puppets were constructed for the movie and it is perhaps even more surprising to know that the model for Mr.Fox took approximately 7 months to design (and 6 different ones had to be made). This dedication - brutal, and risky - more than pays off as it captures the essence of imagination and creativity needed when appealing to even the youngest of audience members.
Enhancing the puppets with fur from their real-life animal counterparts in addition to a profoundly conscious attention to detail makes every frame a real treat for the eyes (I paused this film so much just to take it in!). The set design - a mix of colors associated with autumn, the great outdoors, and Dahl’s own hometown - an open invitation delivered with warmth and infused with passion for the defiantly absurd.
It’s of no doubt that the target audiences for Dahl and Anderson have their significant differences.Sure, an adult is perfectly capable of finding enjoyment out of the sentimentally wrapped source material: But 90 pages worth of a fox outsmarting a trio of scroogey stooges can only go so far.
A prosperous marriage of masterminds: Anderson Illustrates his ability to construct a film that is appropriate for the family that won’t lull its older viewers to sleep. It calls back regularly to Dahl’s style of humor and wit through dialogue that jabs without bruising. While it is fair to say that at times the interactions between characters are wildly opportunistic, the ironic and spontaneous jests are highly preferable to space that is empty and disproportionality pretentious. And just so I know I said it: substituting a pseudonym for foul language isn’t just a practical move.
It’s cussing brilliance.
The divergence from the source material is hard to ignore, but the context in which Mr. Fox was originally created is largely to blame for Dahl’s unique vision; having lost a child to measles and witnessing another one be affected by “water on the brain” it should be of no surprise that ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ places exclusionary interest on its primary protagonist that is burdened by the responsibilities of protecting his immediate family and ensuring its survival.
The paradigm involving paternal roles and related values is a commonly explored vein in much of Anderson's work, so it's only natural to see some gravitation towards this particular story from Dahl's entire collection; the inclusion of a dynamic that differs from the source material (one involving Mr. Foxs’ son ‘Ash’ and a visiting relative) allows for some much appreciated elaboration on the themes found in both ‘FMF’ and other publications that aren’t so willingly adapted for the purposes of cinematic entertainment or distraction in an unexpectedly emotional way. Through Mr. Fox we see some potential for change (and the importance of recognizing our own faults). The rift between him and his quirky misfit of a son (‘Ash’) is depleted in an authentic and heart-felt manner. And of course there is a gentle reminder that life goes on: With or without our enthusiastic participation.
Alterations to classics are understandably met with pushback - but when made with responsibility and adoration they can be accepted as the inevitable result of modernization and time passing by with little regard for what gets taken away with it; this adaptation stretches the content of the novel it’s inspired by without breaking its spine or depreciating its value.
I would recommend!
𝑾𝒆'𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒅𝒊𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒕
𝑩𝒖𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆'𝒔 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈
𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒇 𝒇𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒄