I would not have believed you had you told me that I would be in the theatre, in the midst of the digital age, watching a brand new stop animation film. I am continually amazed and awed by the fabulousness—in this case, fantasticness—of Wes Anderson’s film creations. Anderson’s new film brings his trademark precision of set design—particularly, his attention to color—to a whole new level. In an NPR interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air (see below), Anderson describes the process through which he creates the fantastic world of Mr. Fox. The result—an amalgam of richly colored miniature puppets, sets made from scratch in hues of red and orange, and a splash of Wes Anderson’s unique brand of wit.
I hadn’t gone to the theatre expecting to see a children’s film, but yet the cinema was full of young kids. As I waited for the film to begin, I was bombarded by previews for new Pixar animations, commercials for toys, and car advertisements with classic rock soundtracks. Although the movie is based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl, Anderson incorporates more adult themes, using words such as existential, representing dependency on alcohol, and even portraying a knife fight that ends in death. Don’t be fooled by the substitution of all profanities with the word cuss. Wes Anderson delivers a film layered not only with rich color, but with deeply pertinent subject matter.
We are treated with only a sprinkling of Anderson’s usual cast of actors—Bill Murray, Jason Swartzman, and a surprisingly small appearance from Owen Wilson. Introduced into the mix are George Clooney and Meryl Streep, who play Mr. and Mrs. Fox, respectively. It would somehow not feel like an Anderson film without Swartzman’s angsty character, the young offspring of the Foxes, Ash. Although it seems almost cliché these days, I never do get enough of the “accepting differences” theme, especially when it is realized through Anderson’s inimitable perspective.
As a Wes Anderson fan, my only disappointment was with the difference in pace between Fantastic Mr. Fox and the rest of the canon. There is something refreshing about the quiet rhythm of the majority of Anderson’s films. For me, the fast-paced action starts all too early, carrying us all the way to our grand finale dance number.
Nonetheless, the film is worth every moment. I am forever grateful to Anderson not only for his beautifully crafted films, but for the entire orchestration of witty dialogue and expert puppeteering realized by an awesomely talented cast and crew. I might even just have to see it again, if for nothing else but to appreciate all the tiny details once more on the big screen.