By Lissette Decos
Fortunately, Fantastic Mr. Fox is not just for children. In fact, the showing I went to had all of one child under the age of 10. Don't be fooled by the fact that it's based on a children's book or by the stop-motion animation. It's Wes Anderson. And he's found a way to make it more for adults, more like Rushmore meets The Royal Tenenbaums with a splash of Life Aquatic... heck, it's like all of his movies (which are, in effect, like all of his movies), a very funny, excellently scored series of beautiful and meticulously crafted images.
Roald Dahl's original story—about a fox that is hunted down by three evil farmers—has been tweaked to fit neatly into le petite lexicon of Wes Anderson themes. These recurring themes being of course: sons coming to terms with their flawed fathers; sons coming to terms with their own quirkiness; and fathers and/or sons that just don't want to grow up.
I was surprised at first, but after seeing the film I realized that stop-motion is actually a perfect fit for Wes. He's the kind of director/artist that likes to control it all, designing everything down to the suits that his main characters wear (which, incidentally, look an awful lot like the ones the director wears himself). The scenes in his films have always had that dollhouse feel, like we're peeking into an adorable scene taking place inside a shoebox. I bet he loved making this film because he could manipulate every single shoebox moment frame by frame. No doubt a stuffed fox is easier to manage than say, Bill Murray. Not that any director would want to manage Bill Murray... Speaking of which, George Clooney and Meryl Streep as Mr. and Mrs. Fox make for an unexpectedly appropriate addition to Anderson's recurring posse of misfits—Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson.
Recurring elements or not, I'm a huge fan and I have found that other fans of "All Things Wes" do the exact same thing. After the film is over, we go back to our list (which we keep safe in a shoe box in our hearts of course) and carefully place this film where it belongs among the rest. Each person has his or her own list. In fact, you can tell a lot about a person by how they rate Wes Anderson's films.
Here's my list, and where Mr. Fox now lives in it:
1. The Darjeeling Limited
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
4. (tie) Bottle Rocket and The Royal Tenenbaums
6. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
How does Fantastic Mr. Fox rate on your list?