Monday, 9 November 2009
FANTASTIC MR FOX
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, Roald Dahl (book)
Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzmann
Released: 23rd October 2009
The Fantastic Mr Schwartz- oh, I'm sorry. George Clooney is the star of this film. I almost forgot. Clooney is excellent as always, making us really root for a character that, on paper, is a bit of a wanker. Anderson adds another conflicted, if by now over-familiar father figure to his body of work. But Schwartzmann's fox cub Ash, without a doubt, has all the best lines. I'm extremely glad that Anderson and Baumbach added the subplot with cousin Kristofferson, because it gives Schwartzmann a chance to shine, and wow, does he shine.
Don't take your kids to see this film. Yes, it's animated talking animals, but children will literally not understand a word of the inter-family relationships or anything else, really. Mr Fox gets his tail shot off and tells his son it will never grow back (an extremely dark moment in the book for me). All the swears are removed, which I like, especially the use of "clustercuss" and the graffiti in town that just said "CUSS".
There are some good cameos (my highlight was Bill Murray's badger, in his out-of-the-blue and weirldy hypnotic fight with Mr Fox), and the voicework is good all round. But the animation looks extremely weird to me. It's jerky and deliberately left-field: sometimes this works and really helps the comedy, such as when Mr Fox gobbles a huge plate of toast making 'nom nom nom' sounds or during the final dance number; at others, it's just disconcerting and out of place.
The puppets look great, though, as do the sets, Anderson keeping everything pastels and primary colours. It's so Wes that if you close your eyes you could almost be watching anything since Bottle Rocket. This isn't necessarily a criticism, but it definitely will be if his next film treads the same path. The final showdown has an interesting departure for Anderson: action. Apart from the fact that it's all puppets, and the smoke is obviously cotton wool, it's a well-choreographed and exciting scene. The shootout on the Belafonte was easily one of the best moments of The Life Aquatic, and I'd genuinely like to see more explosions in amongst all the father issues next time round.
This film looks good, it sounds good, it's funny, the animation really didn't do it for me, but Anderson pulls off another quirky family-com. Overall, this film is fantast oh I'm sorry please kill me.