Review No. 497
DIRECTED BY WES ANDERSON. PRODUCED BY ANDERSON, ALLISON ABBATE, SCOTT RUDIN, AND JEREMY DAWSON. SCREENPLAY BY ANDERSON & NOAH BAUMBACH. BASED ON “FANTASTIC MR FOX” BY ROALD DAHL. FEATURING THE VOICES OF GEORGE CLOONEY (MR. “FOXY” FOX), MERYL STREEP (MRS. FELICITY FOX), JASON SCHWARTZMAN (ASH FOX), BILL MURRAY (CLIVE BADGER), WILLEM DAFOE (RAT), AND OWEN WILSON (COACH SKIP). ALSO FEATURING THE VOICES OF ERIC CHASE ANDERSON, WALLACE WOLODARSKY, MICHAEL GAMBON, ROBIN HURLSTONE, HUGO GUINESS, HELEN McCRORY, JARVIS COCKER, BRIAN COX, ADRIEN BRODY, GARTH JENNINGS, WES ANDERSON, ROMAN COPPOLA, AND MARIO BATALI. DISTRIBUTED BY 20TH CENTURY FOX ON NOVEMBER 25, 2009. PRODUCED IN ENGLISH BY THE UNITED STATES. RUNS 1 HOUR, 27 MINUTES. NOT FOR ALL AGES, DUE TO SMOKING AND MILD VIOLENCE.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX WAS WATCHED ON JUNE 10, 2013.
“Boggis, Bunce, and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean.
These horrible crooks,
so different in looks,
were nonetheless equally mean.”
–music and lyrics by Alexandre Desplat
Creative writing prompts are a matter of reusing and recycling; I think the one I land on the most happens to be: “Choose two different people from two different periods of time. Let them have a conversation with one another. What does one person say, and how does the other react?” The next time I face this prompt, I shall write a response concerning Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson. The problem I’ll run into is the time constraint. These two would sit around all day and not notice sunrise become midnight. You just can’t condense a high-spirited conversation the length of ten, elaborate novels, into a three-page short story.
The animated comedy at hand is tremendously enjoyable for all ages. Wes Anderson has always been fond of expressing stories with adult humor and youthful attitudes, but he’s never been able to channel his work to both parties, due to the inhibitions of the R rating. Fantastic Mr. Fox is rated PG, and in almost every scene, there’s a melodic balance in humor. Anthropomorphism is outstandingly realized. One of my personal favorite moments was a rather fleeting instance: it’s funny for both young and older audiences when Kylie the Opossum starts playing the piano. One age group would laugh at the thought that an opossum can actually tickle the ivories; the other age group would find it amusing that an opossum is able to serenade his critter family as if he were George Gershwin.
My theory is, these five seconds were a subtextual cameo of Anderson’s. If there’s anyone who can adapt Roald Dahl’s work, it’s Wes Anderson. Henry Selick, Danny DeVito, and Tim Burton have all tried and failed. Proverbially, they knew the notes, they just couldn’t play the music. Anderson doesn’t just play the music, he plays it like George Gershwin. It’s been a while since I’ve read Dahl’s book, so I can’t say so for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if along the way, Anderson gave the notes a little twist. A twist that would make even Roald Dahl smile and remark, “Why didn’t I think of that?”