When I heard that Wes Anderson was going to bring the Roald Dahl story, Fantastic Mr. Fox to the big screen, I was thrilled. Roald Dahl was my favorite childhood author and is best known for writing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach.
Wes Anderson is one of my top 5 favorite directors and I have seen all his movies repeatedly. His attention to detail, quirky characters and great musical scores make each film a treasure.
Unfortunately I was unable to view Fantastic Mr. Fox when it was released in theaters but I had a chance to watch the DVD this week and true to form, I really enjoyed it. The film was adapted for the screen and expanded by Anderson and screenplay writer Noah Baumbach.
The stop-motion film features the voice talents of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Willem Dafoe. The voice work on this film is top-notch, perhaps the best of any children’s/animated film that I have heard.
The plot is only loosely based on the children’s book, and revolves around a chicken thief (Clooney) who tries to go straight after being caught in a trap while burglarizing a hen house. However, missing both the taste of chicken and the excitement of staging daring raids, Fantastic Mr. Fox decides to pull off one last big job before finally retiring for good.
So, with the help of Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky), an opossum, he hatches an elaborate plan to steal poultry and cider from a trio of neighboring farmers owned by a trio of mean, gun-toting fox-haters: Franklin Bean (Michael Gambon), Walter Boggis (Robin Hurlstone) and Nathan Bunce (Hugo Guinness).
In the wake of the heist, during which Mr. Fox suffers the indignity of having his tail shot off, the irate farmers resort to desperate measures to catch him.
It is an escalating battle of wits to the very end.
Although the movie is stop motion animated there is no confusing that this is a Wes Anderson film. There are elements from all of Anderson’s past films (Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, etc.) that seep into this film such as the elaborate furnishings, planning capers or detailed cross sections.
The bonus features on this DVD are unfortunately a little light and I would have liked to have seen a bit more such as voice commentaries.
The 3 extras are as follows:
From Script to Screen (7 minutes) discusses the adaptation of Dahl’s book, how Wes Anderson guided the animators, and more. We also see Bill Murray visiting the set where the animation was filmed.
Still Life (7 minutes) talks about the animation process. Anyone interested in the technical side of animation will be interested in this. It could have been a bit longer as the painstaking process of stop motion animation is fascinating and deserves additional detail.
A Beginner’s Guide to Whack-Bat (1 minute) is a brief faux documentary about the popular sport played among the woodland creatures.
Finally, Fox includes the film’s theatrical trailer as well as teasers, trailers and promos for other upcoming titles.
If you are looking for a smart, visually appealing and delightful film that the entire family will enjoy, pick up the DVD of Fantastic Mr. Fox today.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is available as a Blu-ray Disc/DVD Combo Pack (Blu-ray, DVD and a Digital Copy) for the suggested retail price of $39.99 U.S. / $49.99 Canada and available on standard DVD for $29.98 U.S. / $43.48 Canada.