The Wonderful World of Mr. Fox

Roald Dahl was a master storyteller. As the author of classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach, he enchanted readers of all ages, transforming the world into a strange, magical place where anything was possible. Yet when his novels were turned into movies, they could not fully capture the essence of his masterful, imaginative tales.

Luckily, the same cannot be said for Fantastic Mr. Fox, the latest Dahl story adapted into a major motion picture.

Co-written by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, the animated film retains the adventurous and witty spirit of Dahl’s story, while veering away slightly from the original plot.

Fantastic Mr. Fox tells the story of Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney), a newspaper columnist who used to make a living stealing chickens. He yearns for his old life though, and begins stealing chickens once again, much to the chagrin of his wife (voiced by Meryl Streep).

Other characters include Mr. Fox’s son, Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), who is jealous of his cousin Kristofferson (voiced by Eric Anderson) because he seems to be favored by Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox’s friends include his lawyer, Badger (voiced by Bill Murray) and an opossum named Kylie (voiced by Wally Wolodarsky). Kylie becomes Mr. Fox’s partner-in-crime when he begins stealing chickens again, this time from Boggis, Bunce and Bean, “three of the meanest, nastiest, ugliest farmers.” As the movie progresses, all of the characters are affected by Mr. Fox’s actions. The movie is successful in creating a good amount of suspense while the animal characters try to outwit the three farmers.

The film’s stop-motion animation, done by Mark Gustafson (animation director) and Tristan Oliver (director of photography) is perfect. The music, done by Alexandre Desplat, adds to the overall quirky tone of the movie.

Although it’s based on a children’s book, Fantastic Mr. Fox does deal with adult issues, such as Mr. Fox’s need to find more meaning in life and the jealousy Ash feels towards his cousin Kristofferson, who seems to have won Mr. Fox’s affections. The movie deals with these issues in a charming, skillful way, making it superior to many other recent adaptations of children’s classics like Where the Wild Things Are and A Christmas Carol.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is easily the best animated film of 2009 thanks to its compelling characters and adventure as well as its wry humor. The movie is currently playing in select theaters and opens everywhere
on Thanksgiving.