Monday, April 25, 2016

Plastic Fantastic

In Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Wes Anderson takes his style of whimsy to stop motion animation. The animation works, not sure about the movie.

It features George Clooney as Mr. Fox - a daredevil chicken thief who settled down when he got married. Now he writes newspaper column and lives in a tree, not a burrow. His loving wife is voiced by Meryl Streep and their odd-ball son is Jason Schwartzman, of course. Their nephew, the almost perfect Kristofferson, is played by Wes' borther Eric Chase Anderson. Amid all this family drama, Mr. Fox decides to secretly try one last raid against the three nasty vicious farmers in the area: Bunce, Boggle, and Bean.

First, I want to stipulate that the animation and art direction are lovely. There is a naive children's book look to it, rarely polished or busy. Also, the story is fun, rambling, and true to life. My big complaint is that Mr. Fox is kind of a jerk. Self-involved, detached from his family, he withholds love from his son and lies to his wife. He seems charming, but as far as I can tell, that's just because he's voiced by George Clooney, who could charm a possum out of a pawpaw tree.

The story comes from Roald Dahl, whose delightful stories for kids aren't really that sweet. They have a sour side that makes kids and adults love them all the more. But for me, this comes across as a middle-aged men's problem kind of movie, where men are bored and stifled by their family and obligations, where dangerous risk taking is the only route to creativity, and living a double life is the only true affirmation. That theme has just been done to death, and I just don't feel it. And I wonder if this kind of movies makes wives think, "Just like my poor husband, so stifled and crushed by conformity," or if they go, "Oh, get over yourself, Fox."

So, maybe this movie just pushed some of my buttons, or tried to push buttons that I don't have. It was lovely, but I didn't love it. It fact, it annoyed me a bit. Your mileage may vary.

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

I definitely love this movie. I went out of my way to buy it, in fact. Mr. Fox is just incorrigible in a lovable way. Don't confuse him with Walter White, please. This story, done in Wes Anderson's style, is gold. One of those movies I can't get tired of watching.