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136 out of 183 people found the following review useful:

The Truly 'Fantastic' Fantastic Mr. Fox

10/10
Author: amarcordforever from United States
12 November 2009

In recent years, Disney's Pixar division, with their monopoly over animation, has churned out some of the biggest, funniest, most emotional material to hit theaters in the last ten years. By this point, the public knows their aggressive marketing campaign and knows it well. Adult humor and themes geared not only toward the kids, but the parent's as well. The mass appeal? Mom and dad can now take their eight year old to the local multiplex and fork over the steep price of admission without wasting it on a two hour long power nap. Last quarter's CGI constructed Pixar extravaganza "Up" captured audiences' hearts, imaginations and pocket books, raking in a less than modest 292 mil at the box office, making it one of the highest grossing animated films of all time. Along comes "Fantastic Mr. Fox", helmed by auteur Wes Anderson, a crack team at Twentieth-Century Fox (Yes, I said Fox) and Indian Paintbrush, one of Wes' collaborators on his predecessor "The Darjeeling Limited". If there's one thing that's detrimental to the Trump-like successes of the Disney powerhouse, it's a new found competition…let the games begin.

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" is a pure delight. A feast for the eyes. From frame one, it takes no time at all to draw you into its beautiful visuals of vast countryside's, running streams and falling foliage, all in marvelous stop motion. That's right I said it, stop motion. From the course hair on Fox's face to the cotton ball chimney smoke of Boggis, Bunce and Beans warehouse smoke stacks, everything's been designed from scratch, much of which involves simple household items. After just a few minutes in Wes Andersons world inspired by written cues from the mind of the British children's author Roald Dahl (inspired by Dahl's own hometown) you're dragged out of the theater and immersed in a faraway land for the entirety of its modest and to the point one hour and twenty minute runtime. The real treat lies in the notion of how long it actually must have taken these top notch art designers to bring everything to life. There are forces at play here that give one a clear sense of the fact that stepping away from a computer screen and getting things done the hard way pays off when witnessing the final product. Production value is staggeringly noticeable and truly memorable. I for one am still transfixed by the universe of Mr. Fox.

Among one of the droves of Wes Anderson fans, I had high expectations going into the film. Anderson is one of those rare writer/directors that manage to separate themselves from the societal norm, branch out and go their own way. With Fantastic Mr. Fox, he effortlessly supersedes his reputation as one of the most unique Directors of this century. You may be asking yourself how you direct a bunch of puppets, but Andersons 'puppets' are among some of the most realistic and complex that you're likely to meet. With human emotions, expressions and actions, it is clear that Mr. Anderson took great time and preparation during the film's production and pre-production to make sure everything came off as smoothly and impactful as possible. Look out for a particularly funny scene during one of the nightly stake outs portrayed wholly through images on security camera monitors. Very, very well thought out and clever.

Fox, for being aimed at children, is probably one of the most adult animated films I've seen to date. Think Pixar Redux. There's smoking, 'cussing' and above all some extremely heavy handed adult humor and themes. In Wes Andersons sharp, funny, unbelievably witty script, he keeps all of that classic dry comedy that's become synonymous with his trademark, the only exception being that it's coming from the mouths of the animals he's intricately created. Parts had me gasping for air; others had me rolling in the aisles. It's clear to me that by now Wes has really honed in on his craft and gets marginally better with each new picture.

Wes Anderson, with his creative brain that can only be compared to an Einstein of the medium, lays all his cards on the table and ups the ante for Pixar Studios. When asked if he wanted to continue to make animated films he commented by saying, "I would certainly love to make other animated films in the future." Could this be his new calling? Truly focusing on the niche market of animated movies tipping the scale more in favor of adult audiences? One would love to think so (of course without turning into another Robert Zemeckis and taking a permanent vacation from live action). Fantastic Mr. Fox is something to be experienced. Children will love its adorable characters while adults will marvel in its ability to connect with them. After all, each of us was a kid at one time or another and because of that there has never been a better excuse to pretend again.

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92 out of 123 people found the following review useful:

A feast for the eyes and ears. No Roald Dahl in sight though

9/10
Author: rosiblonde from United Kingdom
16 November 2009

After reading the reviews on here I wasn't put off watching this film. As a huge fan of animation, as well as Wes Anderson films this film definitely did everything and more for me. There's so much going on in every scene, I found it even funnier than other Anderson films, and as usual I loved all the characters. Anderson manages to keep all the coin facial expressions/awkward silences between characters/quirky background stories that appear in all his films. It's a true work of brilliance! This film has a 'kids film' label on it, but it's not really for children in my opinion, I urge anyone who appreciates animation and is looking to watch something quirky and intelligent to go for this film. Don't be put off due to the hordes of children. Anderson films are best watched on the big screen, so go see it now before it finishes at our cinemas.

The only criticism I will say about this is that I don't think Anderson should have kept the original title of Roald Dahl's story 'Fantastic Mr Fox'. Mainly because it has been adapted so much to Anderson's style (as well as being Americanised) that it isn't really in keeping with Dahl's story, and fans of the acclaimed writer who want to experience the film adaptation of his story will be disappointed I feel. I think he should have given it a different title, like 'Foxxed' or something (that's a rubbish suggestion, but you get what I mean), as I loved it, and wouldn't change anything else, but marketing it as an adaptation of Dahl's book is a little mis-leading (definitely for British people anyway).

-As a side point I think that as much as Dahl supplies a brilliant story and tons of material to make a very good film, I think Dahl's stories are best kept where they belong, and that is on paper. It is his literacy genius where the magic of his stories lie, and reading them (rather than looking at them) gives me the most enjoyment than I could ever get from watching a film of one of his stories.

I left the cinema with a huge grin on my face and felt like bouncing along the pavement as I made my way home. It definitely has been the highlight of my week, and will be without a doubt one of the best films I've seen this year.

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70 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

Sartre and Satire

Author: John DeSando (jdesando@columbus.rr.com) from Columbus, Ohio
25 November 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox is acclaimed director Wes Anderson's first animation, specifically stop-motion, and it's, well, fantastic.

George Clooney's voice as the head fox of an animal clan that shouts diversity is straight out of Danny Ocean-- cool and witty with an overlay of sentimentality that would convince you to open your hen house door to let him have his way. That's after his little speech that tries existentialism on for size, foxwise that is: "Why a fox? Why not a horse, or a beetle, or a bald eagle? I'm saying this more as, like, existentialism, you know? Who am I?"

As the animals pull a caper against farmer Bean (Michael Gambon) and his thugs, the animation pulls away from the gloom of another winner this year, Where the Wild Things Are, and confirms the fun of a well told beast fable with loads of anthropomorphism to reaffirm our love of humanity and confirm that animals, like us, will always be animals. The ease with which Anderson/Clooney convince that this stealing and mayhem are what animals do is a tribute to script and performance that seduce us into the stylistic den of thieves known as the fox lair and all its attitude and custom, sanctioned by mother nature herself.

Mr. Fox: "The cuss am I? Are you cussing with me?" Badger (Bill Murray): "No, you cussing with me?" Mr. Fox: "Don't cussing point at me!"

Such an exchange is indicative of the fun Anderson has with kids and adults by not bombarding the youngsters with profanity but winking at the adults as if to say, "You know what I mean." And the most violent moment comes not from scenes with guns but rather where the animals steal chickens and break their necks, done so gingerly and quietly that it seems what it is: Just what foxes do and what humans must do to eat the chickens. Darwin meets the cartoons: Mr. Fox: "And how can a fox ever be happy without, you'll forgive the expression, a chicken in its teeth?"

That's Wes Anderson for you: Sartre and satire with a dash of dashing fox.

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57 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

A Wonderful Return to Classic Animation

10/10
Author: conversequeen64 from United States
10 December 2009

I'll admit it: I love stop motion animation. From the crude Christmas classics that are always on TV this time of year to the elegant masterpieces of Tim Burton, I never miss the chance to see classic animation at work. Needless to say, when I heard about Fantastic Mr. Fox, I was excited. A wonderful Rhold Dahl book, beautifully crafted animation, and an illustrious cast all in one package – this was exciting. I'm happy to say that my excitement was justified as Fantastic Mr. Fox is perhaps one of the best new movies I have seen this year.

The story of Fantastic Mr. Fox follows the lives of the Fox family – Mr (George Clooney), Mrs(Meryl Streep), and their son(Jason Schwartzman) – and their animal neighbors and friends. Mr. Fox, once a professional chicken stealer, decides to settle down with his wife after she becomes pregnant and instead take up a career in writing. After moving to a new home in the trunk of a tree, Mr. Fox takes notice in three massive fowl and fruit farms. Risking everything. Mr. Fox decides to embark on one last big job – stealing from all three farms. What happens after that can only be described as pure confusion and debauchery.

As with most Rhold Dahl stories, the book Fantastic Mr. Fox works to both excite kids and humor adults. As a result, the original short story is considered a classic for many families. Though some adaptations of Rhold Dahl classics (see BOTH adaptations of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) have strayed from Dahl's dry, quirky humor, the film version of one of his best loved stories have honored this side of Dahl's story, projecting a humor perhaps more suited to adults than children, but creating an overall story that will appeal to all.

This movie would likely have been impossible without the work of numerous wonderful voice actors. George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, and Owen Wilson all provide voices in the movie, among other lesser known but still wonderfully talented actors. As a result, the voices blend beautifully into the animation. Instead of feeling like characters with a voice shoved in, the voices and the characters are one.

The animation is perhaps the most appealing aspect of the movie. The script and humor works with the animation in ways traditional or digital animation could not. In many instances, the animation itself provides part of the story. By using a more traditional method, Fantastic Mr. Fox is also able to provide very specific quirks and personalities to each character, something often lost in newer animation. Adding to the animation is a muted, fall palette of colors, giving the entire film a homey, comforting feel.

Animation has become so perverted in recent years. Throwing away emotional appeal for visual appeal, the plethora of slick, computer animated, shiny films are almost unnerving. In such an atmosphere, choosing to make a use traditional animation can often spell anathema for the film. As a result, Fantastic Mr. Fox shines, choosing to pick traditional animation techniques to allow the viewer to relate to and communicate with the film in a way few films are able to do anymore. Though perhaps not for everyone, I would recommend Fantastic Mr. Fox for anyone interested in quirky humor, stop-motion animation, or simply a beautifully crafted and well written story.

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72 out of 111 people found the following review useful:

Thoroughly Enjoyable

10/10
Author: gilldominic from United Kingdom
26 October 2009

To put it simply, Fantastic Mr. Fox is unlikely to leave you disappointed.

For a start, the animation, is simply wonderful. Gorgeously designed backgrounds and scenery full of simply incredible attention to detail, the film is full of such loving care and attention. Each character feels full of personality and it's refreshing to see something other than a glossy 3D rendered animation film for a change most certainly. It feels like a return to a day where a little imagination was expected in films, which is nice.

Comparing Pixar releases and this film is besides the point. This film wasn't made to be compared or compete with others, it was made to tell a classic children's tale by one of the greatest authors at writing them. Dahl's wife Felicity herself has described her delight at how the film portrays the universe great author created and the modification of the story for film length is smoothly and smartly done. It is a beautifully told story, heart-warming and charming, witty and full of comedic moments.

While Pixar films play like films made for children that can be enjoyed by adults. Wes Anderson's film feels like one made for adults, that can be enjoyed by children. Some parents may not feel too comfortable of the less than subtle replacement of curse words with "cuss" or "cussing" it has to be mentioned however.

The voice acting is excellently done, Anderson took the cast outside, underground and indoors for the varying parts of the film to give it a real feel of authenticity which pays off. The soundtrack, as with all Wes Anderson films, is stunningly good and really elevates the film. After watching you may find yourself searching out the soundtrack as soon as you get home.

The film's style and direction screams Wes Anderson at the top of its lungs and so, haters of his previous work may need to be careful, but I would certainly suggest to give the film a try and see if it can convert you, if not at least not make you feel like you've wasted your money.

As a self confessed Wes Anderson fan I was doomed to love this film no matter what, but am genuinely delighted with the end product and believe that more than just the blind Wes Anderson lover will find this film a charming, witty ride of enjoyment.

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47 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Holy Cuss, This Film Is Great

8/10
Author: Matt_Layden from Canada
6 December 2009

Giving up his life of a chicken thief because of a child on the way, Mr. Fox gets a job as a newspaper writer and lives underground. Years pass, his child is older and he wants to move to a tree and not feel poor anymore. Along the way he takes in his nephew and decides to steal again, from the three biggest farmers no less. The farmers get wise and start a battle against Mr. Fox, his family and all their creature friends.

At first I didn't know if I wanted to see this, the animation looked really bad. But after thinking about it for a bit, I found that it fit into Anderson's style, it was something that he would do. So I gave the film a shot and I'm glad I did. This film has Anderson's signature style all over it, right down to the obvious voice casting, which has the likes of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Michael Gambon, Owen Wilson, and Willem Dafoe.

A lot of people, and I'm including myself in this bunch, might think nothing of this film. After all, it doesn't have the bright, adventurous feel of the recent Disney/Pixar films that have been dominating the animation scene. I'd even throw Dreamworks into that bunch. Those films are done by people who are at ease in their field, animated director like Brad Bird and John Lasseter know their way around the animation style. Yet here comes auteur Wes Anderson, who has a unique style and sense of comedy. His transition to animation, stop motion animation no less, is smart, funny and a pleasure. Is it his best film? Of course not, but it's one of the more enjoyable ones.

The voice cast all work well, Clooney does a good job as the lead. He has that leadership tone in his voice, that arrogance that is needed for the character. Streep isn't given much to do, so her role as the wife is pretty basic, as is the character. Their son Ash, voice by Bored To Death star Jason Schwartzman was a stand out for me, as was Eric Chase Anderson, as Kristofferson. That name might not sound familiar, that's because his resume only consists of Anderson films. Bill Murray plays a badger and Fox's lawyer, who advises him not to buy the tree house. Fox does anyway and that's why he's in this mess. The animals are really small and live in this world where there are apparently small motorbikes for them to use. They can communicate with the human characters, no one seems to find it odd in this little world they live in. You won't find it odd either, you'll just be enjoying the fun.

Each chapter is subtitled, Fox's Master Plan A, Fox's Master Plan B, etc. They even tell you how time passes in human years and fox years and in a comical bit one human hour compare to one fox hour. You never know how long these hours are in comparison to each other, you don't want to know either, it just adds to the uniqueness of the film. At heart, these characters are still wild animals, as Fox even says this in the film, and the way they eat and "fight" each other proves this.

The film has that Anderson humour and might go over some kids heads. It's dark in some places, as one character dies, but I think they will enjoy it. They won't jump up and down for it like Up, or Finding Nemo. They won't want to go out and buy the latest Mr. Fox stuffed animal or toy. This feels more like a film for adults, it doesn't really cater to the kids, but they will have their bits to laugh at, like the possum who stares blankly at some people for whatever reason.

This film was made from scratch, this world Anderson creates is fun and I had a fun time being in it. The film flies by it's running time and I never found the film dragging. It was in and out. As stated before, the kids might enjoy this, but it's more for adults. There's smoking and there's even a unique way of swearing, which I found funny. The camera movements scream Wes Anderson and if you're a fan, then you will enjoy this very much.

One of my favourite films of the year.

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38 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

A Nutshell Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

8/10
Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore
22 November 2009

I'm pretty much the sucker for stop motion animation, so this naturally comes with that wee bit of bias, because I surely take my hats off to the filmmakers, especially the modelers and pretty much everyone who has to painstakingly move everything a little bit at a time, which for folks who are impatient (like myself), would already have driven one nuts.

But this crazy effort in bringing to life Roald Dahl's story of a sly fox, is pretty much worth every frame of it. The man hours and intricate designs are something of an old school technique when compared to the latest computer wizardry, but you'll be amazed at what director Wes Anderson and his team managed to come up with, complete with a solid story, likable characters, and plenty of fun.

George Clooney voices Mr Fox, a smug (what else, since Clooney chews these type of roles for breakfast) and wily erm, fox whose specialty is being the chicken thief that he is, providing for family. An incident cutting too close to death has Mr Fox promise Mrs Fox (Meryl Streep) that his thieving days are over, but you know how a leopard cannot change its spots. Soon he moves his family near three farmers Bean (Michael Gambon), Boggis (Robin Hurlstone) and Bunce (Hugo Guinness), and crafts his final hurrah in hitting all three neighbours, only for them to retaliate and demolish Mr Fox's lifestyle, and not to mention his relationship with wife, family and friends, resulting in a battle of wills and wits.

Despite the relatively short run time, the film managed to pack plenty of subplots, characterization, and comedy into one well oiled narrative. You'll surely be one without a sense of humour should you not be able to laugh at anything and everything that Anderson had put on screen, from slapstick to really smart and funny lines that make up every moment of enjoyment in this film. The A-list voice cast also includes the likes of Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Brian Cox, Adrien Brody et al, some of whom you'll know are regulars in Anderson's past works.

And if you had enjoyed his past quirky films, then you'd come to expect the same for Fantastic Mr. Fox, with Wes Andersen's signature touches all over the shop, where he made some departures from Dahl's book, but manage to retain the essence of the story, and through a stroke of luck, finding an alternate ending from Dahl's original manuscript which got adopted here in the film. It's comical, it's smart, it's stop motion and it won't be too long before fans will soon adopt Mr Fox's trademarked whistle-whistle-click-click.

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75 out of 123 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant, and utterly enjoyable. You will love this movie!!!

10/10
Author: williamzim2000 from United States
16 November 2009

This is such an exceptional piece of work, I left the theater amazed at how talented Wes Anderson is. While I like much of his other movies, I was completely blown away by this. The imagination and creativity in this film is truly impressive. I enjoyed every moment of this, and so will you.

The plot centers around Mr. Fox (voice by George Clooney) who decides to start stealing chickens and things from his neighbor Walter Baggis, the owner of a chicken and agricultural empire. The battle that ensues between Mr. Fox's gang, and Baggis' gang, escalates into an all out war. That is the basic theme of the plot. What counts in this movie is the execution, the humor and sheer wittiness Anderson adds to the stop motion figures. They are rendered in a way I have never seen before. Funny, unusual, cleaver, intelligent, I was delighted by every scene at the inventiveness with which it was handled. This movie is so smart and bursting with originality, you'll walk away knowing you completely got your money's worth. I absolutely recommend this film for anyone who appreciates talent, and loves movies.

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47 out of 71 people found the following review useful:

a marvelous clubhouse of a movie where we're all invited to laugh and feel happy

10/10
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
22 November 2009

I made a diorama in third grade of Fantastic Mr. Fox- a book which I loved fondly- and seeing this film brought me back to that, only better and bolder, but with the same handmade quality of someone awed by the world they read. It's also wildly funny and cheerfully light-and-heavy all at once. It brings director Wes Anderson's concerns as a filmmaker to light, as usual (dysfunctional family, idiosyncratic touches with the characters, absurd child-but-adult-like comedy), and in a setting that is a fantasy that anyone can attach to. Children will latch on to it because of its cute/creepy designs, and its raucous energy. Adults will eat it up because, like with Where the Wild Things Are, it brings us back to a time when we just want to have a fun time and do things, even if we might know or thing they're wrong, or maybe just to dance at very odd moments.

Mr. Fox (George Clooney, who else?) is a sly guy with a quick mouth and a caring manner. He is a wild animal though, which is why he breaks the promise he made to his wife to not go out and steal chickens after their first child is born. He can't help it really- those nasty trio of farmers, Boggis Bunce and Bean- have all of those chickens and deliciously alcoholic apple cider just waiting for the taking. As it turns out, this makes the farmers angry as hell (or rather Bean mostly, who at one point does one of those manic 'destroy everything in the house' reactions Kane might appreciate), and they go and destroy the Fox home and all the outlying areas.

From there it becomes a battle of wills and, sometimes, real fire power and acorn-bombs and a rabid dog and other wild craziness. Oh, and the stop-motion. Thanks be to someone out there: there's filmmakers still going through the painstaking but endlessly creative process of frame-by-frame film-making where it takes dozens of hours to get just a few seconds of film. People like Anderson and Henry Selick seek out the limitations so they can break through them, or toy around with them as much as possible.

With the characterization of 'Mr. Fox', Anderson and his animation team gives us creatures whose hair is always slightly blowing in the wind (something that must have been hard to attain being shot frame by frame), have eyes that are motorized and look like real human eyes almost, and water (or apple cider) when it flows becomes rather dreamlike and appears like we haven't seen it before. That all of the characters have something amazing to their features, be it the way Mr. Fox gnarls his teeth and then does his trademark whistle or to how Rat clicks his fingers like a West Side Story villain, there's something happening every other second. You might figure out how this is all done, but it's not as much concern as what they do with their creations, like kids with action figures making an epic on 8mm film.

Fantastic Mr. Fox has the childlike wonder, the modestly dazzling sets and production design (art-Anderson is basically the way to put it by now with his films, from the title cards of species identification to maps and chapter-headings), and an original sense of perspective when it comes to action scenes and simple little camera moves that comes off extraordinary in this setting. But it's also, mostly, hysterically funny. It's not a crude funny like the Hangover or too bizarre like the Men Who Stare at Goats. It's sometimes just plain awkward, or just totally unexpected, or built around an absurdity that comes up and down like the explanation of how to play Whackbat, or Mrs. Bean and her blindness. Or just a line of dialog ("He's just another rat found in the back of a Chinese restaurant") sets off a belly laugh that's hard to contain. This is, at the least, the funniest of all the Dahl adaptations, keeping to the surrealism of animals and humans alike, while sticking to a perfectly dry, off-handed approach by its filmmaker.

As with everything else in the movie, the comedy feels home-grown, not in a Hollywood lab where everything's tested. This goes too for the excellent voice work that brings Anderson/Baumbach's dialog to fruition. In the theatrical trailer, when first seen, the voices of Clooney and Streep and Bill Murray almost distracted from the quality of the animation. But in full context, they all work, even Anderson himself as a real-estate agent creature. And the outdoor-not-in-studio recording of the voices does add something extra: you feel like there's something real going on, not just in fantasy, thanks to the actors and their "on-set" work. I'm sure some extra ideas or expressiveness came out of this, because the performances are a great part of what makes this world so tangible: we know these people and animals, sort of, at least as much as any other Wes Anderson movie.

And sure, they're foxes, but why not connect with the theme while we're at it? The film is lovely and insane, smart and silly, lovable and (for a few moments) a little scary, with a kick-ass soundtrack straight out of a record collection (and musical store) that connects just right right this spectacular place of someplace-England. And hey, why not some existentialism to top it off: "Who am I? And how can a fox ever be happy without, you'll forgive the expression, a chicken in its teeth?" How indeed? "I don't know what you're talking about, but it sounds illegal."

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17 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

VERY conflicted feelings about this one...

5/10
Author: nikki-folwell from New Zealand
10 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a conundrum. It's impossible for me to give this movie one star because in many ways, it's far from a bad movie. The merits which it does have, and there are some, definitely exclude it from that general category. It is, in all fairness, visually stunning, technically brilliant, flawlessly directed, and an all-around treat for the eyes. It's loaded with a great voice cast, wicked creativity, witty dialogue, and a lot of clever ideas. Yet nor can I give it ten stars either. Because in spite of all of this, its stunning visuals and innovative imagination does not mean that I enjoyed it. I didn't. One bit.

For starters, hello? Helllooo, Road Dahl's story? Where are you? Look I understand that when you have a fairly short children's book you often need to pump it up with extra material in order to bring it up to the two-hour mark. No protests there. What I DO have protests about is when you not only add extra ideas but remove the old ones as well. Extra material can be forgiven as long as it's still entertaining and stays faithful to its inspiration. What isn't forgivable is when it's anything BUT faithful, to the point of betraying the book's spirit with its presence. Make no mistake, only a handful of references to the book manage to make it into this rendition - and even then, it almost feels like they're only there because the producers knew that they couldn't really get away with dropping ALL of the old stuff, so they added it as filler, as if to assert that they haven't forgotten what it is taht they're adapting. So woe big fans of the original story. Fantastic Mr. Fox was one of my favourite Road Dahl books when I was little but the manner in which they've twisted it here ensures that the joy which I remember is not captured. Spoilers FYI...

One of the things that made the book so heartwarming was the fact that Mr. & Mrs. Fox had such a sweet and loving relationship. In the movie, perhaps in an attempt to modernise it (and God knows why, it's a kid's story people! Why the cynicism?), Mr. & Mrs. Fox have been altered into a squabbling married couple. The sweetness of the story is almost entirely absent here. It crosses over the line into being depressing. It comes complete with a fight scene in which she hits him, making him cry, and leaving a claw mark across his face which he has for the rest of the movie (domestic violence?). Cripes, there's even a scene where she says that she shouldn't have married him; a comment which she never takes back. And by God, there's another scene where he goes on a suicide mission, agreeing to turn himself in so that the other animals can be spared, and she makes no attempt to stop him. This isn't exactly what I would call uplifting. OK, so it has happy ending, but by that stage I was so disheartened by what had happened up to then that it was impossible to feel moved. This is because the falling-out scenes were painfully drawn-out, while the make-up scenes were merely glossed over. The result, I have to say, makes the ending highly unsatisfying.

George Clooney has a sexy voice as always, and Meryl Streep is great for this kind of role because her voice is so maternal and softly-spoken that it creates the perfect Ying to George's Yang. As I mentioned earlier, the voice cast is great; Jason Schwartzman is brilliant as the son, as is Eric Anderson as the nephew, and everybody else fits their roles like a glove. But the charm of these characters has been so diluted that the actors behind them can't make up for the total lack of engagement, connection and poignancy. Even the jokes, which admittedly can be very sharp in a number of scenes, are not able to take your mind off just how uninvolving the story is. Basically, this is a movie in which they've tried to be edgy so as to appeal to older audiences. Which is fine because this CAN be done successfully; when done right you get a film which keeps adults and children ntertained in equal measure. When done wrong, you get the likes of this, which tries so hard to be watchable for adults that it ends up losing its heart.

Elsewhere, certain scenes are taken in totally unnecessary directions before they have a chance to really get interesting in order to make way for the story's new trappings. The best character in the movie, by far, is Rat, who is superbly and flawlessly voiced by William Dafoe. But what's this, Rat is in it for all of two scenes, and is then killed off. Man. There was so much more room for him, and instead they got rid of him early so that they could go into the all-new (and completely pointless) suplot of Fox's nephew being kidnapped. That's the all-around approach with this movie - bumping off things which could have been entertaining in favour of focusing on things which aren't. There's a scene involving a wolf which I asbolutely failed to see the point of; conversations which don't go anywhere; scenes which ended after two minutes without serving any integral purpose to the plot; and who knows why Owen Wilson was given fifth billing, he's in it for ONE scene!

So those who enjoyed the novel with have trouble with this. Its energy, slickness, animation and special effects are of such an astonishing standard that they're worth the five stars that I gave it alone. But due to the way in which they warped the story with only a pedestrian payoff at the end, that's all I'm giving it. Dahl virgins approach with open mind; Dahl fans beware.

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