Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Opinions: Wes Anderson/Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Sourced from the Wikipedia page 'Fantastic Mr. Fox (film)'...because I live dangerously...

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a 2009 American stop-motion animated film based on the Roald Dahl children's novel of the same name.
Produced by Regency Enterprises and Indian Paintbrush, and released in the autumn of 2009, the film features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray. For director Wes Anderson it was his first animated film and first film adaptation.
Development on the project began in 2004 as collaboration between Anderson and Henry Selick (who worked with Anderson on the 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) under Revolution Studios. In 2007 Revolution folded, Selick left to direct Coraline, and work on the film moved to 20th Century Fox. Production began in London in 2007.


While raiding a squab farm, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) trigger a fox trap and become caged. Felicity reveals to Fox that she is pregnant and pleads with him to find a safer job should they escape.
Two years later (12 in Fox Years), the Foxes and their sullen son Ash (Jason Schwartzman), are living in a hole. Fox, now a newspaper columnist, moves the family into a better home in the base of a tree, ignoring the warnings of his lawyer Badger (Bill Murray). The tree is located very close to facilities run by farmers Walter Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), Nathan Bunce (Hugo Guinness), and Franklin Bean (Michael Gambon). Soon after the Foxes move in, Felicity's nephew Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson) comes to live with them, as his father has become very ill with double pneumonia. Ash finds this situation intolerable; his soft-spoken cousin is apparently superior to him and everyone, including his father, is charmed by Kristofferson at Ash's expense.
Fox and the opossum building superintendent, Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky), steal produce and poultry from the three farms. The farmers decide to kill Fox and camp out near the family's tree. When he emerges the farmers open fire but only manage to shoot off his tail. They then attempt to dig Fox out. After demolishing the site of the tree, the farmers discover the Foxes have dug an escape tunnel.
Reasoning that the Foxes will have to surface for food and water, the farmers lie in wait at the tunnel mouth. Underground, Fox encounters Badger and many other local animal residents whose homes have also been destroyed. As the animals begin fearing starvation, Fox leads a digging expedition to the three farms, robbing them clean. While the other animals feast, Ash and Kristofferson, beginning to reconcile after Kristofferson defended Ash from a bully, return to Bean's farm, intending to reclaim Fox's tail. When they are interrupted by the arrival of Bean's wife, Ash escapes but Kristofferson is captured.
Discovering that Fox has stolen their produce, the farmers flood the animals' tunnel network with cider. The animals are forced into the sewers, and Fox learns that the farmers plan to use Kristofferson to lure him into an ambush. The animals are confronted by Rat (Willem Dafoe), Bean's security guard. After a struggle with Fox leaves him mortally wounded, Rat divulges Kristofferson's location.
Fox asks the farmers for a meeting in town near the sewer hub; he will surrender in exchange for Kristofferson's freedom. The farmers set up an ambush, but Fox and the others anticipate it and launch a counterattack. Fox, Ash and Kylie slip into Bean’s farm. A much-matured Ash frees Kristofferson and braves enemy fire to release a rabid beagle to keep the farmers at bay.
The animals become accustomed to living in the sewers with others considering moving in. Ash and Kristofferson settle their differences and become good friends. Fox leads his family to a drain opening built into the floor of a supermarket owned by the three farmers. Celebrating their new food source and the news that Felicity is pregnant again, the animals dance in the aisles.


  • George Clooney as Mr. F.F. Fox
  • Meryl Streep as Mrs. Felicity Fox
  • Jason Schwartzman as Ash Fox
  • Eric Chase Anderson as Kristofferson Silverfox
  • Wallace Wolodarsky as Kylie Sven Opossum
  • Bill Murray as Clive Badger
  • Willem Dafoe as Rat
  • Owen Wilson as Coach Skip
  • Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean
  • Robin Hurlstone as Walter Boggis
  • Hugo Guinness as Nathan Bunce
  • Helen McCrory as Mrs. Bean
  • Jarvis Cocker as Petey
  • Brian Cox as Action 12 Reporter
  • Adrien Brody as Rickity
  • Garth Jennings as Bean's Son
  • Wes Anderson as Weasel
  • Roman Coppola as Squirrel Contractor


Joe Roth and Revolution Studios bought the film rights to Fantastic Mr Fox in 2004. In 2006, Mark Mothersbaugh stated that he was working on the soundtrack. Wes Anderson signed on as director with Henry Selick, who worked with Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, as animation director. Anderson stated that he signed on because Roald Dahl was one of his heroes. The story the novel covers would amount to the second act of the film. Anderson added new scenes to serve for the film's beginning and end. The new scenes precede Mr. Fox's plan to steal from the three farmers and follow the farmers' bulldozing of the hill, beginning with the flooding of the tunnel. Selick left the project to work on the Neil Gaiman story Coraline in early 2006. Mark Gustafson is his replacement. 20th Century Fox became the project's home in October 2006 after Revolution folded.
In September 2007, Anderson announced voice work would begin. Cate Blanchett was to voice Mrs. Fox but she left the role for undisclosed reasons.
The director chose to record the voices outside rather than in a studio: "We went out in a forest, [..] went in an attic, [and] went in a stable. We went underground for some things. There was a great spontaneity in the recordings because of that." He said of the production design, "We want to use real trees and real sand, but it's all miniature." Great Missenden, where Roald Dahl lived, has a major influence on the film's look. The film mixes several forms of animation but consists primarily of stop motion. Animation took place in London, on stage C at 3 Mills Studio, with Anderson directing the crew, many of whom animated Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. Selick, who kept in contact with Anderson, said the director would act out scenes while in Paris and send them to the animators via iPhone.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is Regency Enterprises' first completely animated film.

The score for the film was composed by Alexandre Desplat. Jarvis Cocker commented that he wrote "three, four" songs for the film, one of which was included on the soundtrack. The soundtrack also contains a selection of songs by The Beach Boys, The Bobby Fuller Four, Burl Ives, Georges Delerue, The Rolling Stones, and other artists.
A soundtrack album for the film was released on November 3, 2009. It contains the following tracks:

1."American Empirical Pictures"  Alexandre Desplat0:15
2."The Ballad of Davy Crockett" (from Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier)The Wellingtons1:40
3."Mr. Fox in the Fields"  Alexandre Desplat1:03
4."Heroes and Villains"  The Beach Boys3:37
5."Fooba Wooba John"  Burl Ives1:07
6."Boggis, Bunce, and Bean"  Alexandre Desplat0:51
7."Jimmy Squirrel and Co."  Alexandre Desplat0:46
8."Love" (from Robin Hood)Nancy Adams1:49
9."Buckeye Jim"  Burl Ives1:19
10."High-Speed French Train"  Alexandre Desplat1:26
11."Whack-bat Majorette"  Alexandre Desplat2:57
12."The Grey Goose"  Burl Ives2:49
13."Bean's Secret Cider Cellar"  Alexandre Desplat2:07
14."Une Petite Île" (from Two English Girls)Georges Delerue1:36
15."Street Fighting Man"  The Rolling Stones3:15
16."Fantastic Mr Fox AKA Petey's Song"  Jarvis Cocker1:21
17."Night and Day"  Art Tatum1:28
18."Kristofferson's Theme"  Alexandre Desplat1:36
19."Just Another Dead Rat in a Garbage Pail (behind a Chinese Restaurant)"  Alexandre Desplat2:34
20."Le Grand Choral" (from Day for Night)Georges Delerue2:24
21."Great Harrowsford Square"  Alexandre Desplat3:21
22."Stunt Expo 2004"  Alexandre Desplat2:28
23."Canis Lupus"  Alexandre Desplat1:16
24."Ol' Man River"  The Beach Boys1:18
25."Let Her Dance"  The Bobby Fuller Four2:32


The film had its world premiere as the opening film of the 53rd edition of the London Film Festival on October 14, 2009.
The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 23, 2010.


Fantastic Mr. Fox received positive reviews from a vast majority of critics, with the film currently having a 93% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 201 reviews (and 100% of the site's "Top Critics," out of 36 reviews), becoming the second highest-rated animation film in 2009 on the site, behind Up. It has an average review score of 83 ("universal acclaim") from review aggregator Metacritic, which includes positive reviews from publications such as Rolling Stone and The New York Times. A. O. Scott called Fantastic Mr. Fox "in some ways [Wes Anderson's] most fully realized and satisfying film. Once you adjust to its stop-and-start rhythms and its scruffy looks, you can appreciate its wit, its beauty and the sly gravity of its emotional undercurrents. The work done by the animation director, Mark Gustafson, by the director of photography, Tristan Oliver, and by the production designer, Nelson Lowry, shows amazing ingenuity and skill, and the music (by Alexandre Desplat, with the usual shuffle of well-chosen pop tunes, famous and obscure) is both eccentric and just right." According to Time, the film is "both a delightful amusement and a distillation of the filmmaker's essential playfulness" and was one of the ten best films of the year. Cosmo Landesman of The Sunday Times said "having a quirky auteur like Anderson make a children’s film is a bit like David Byrne, of Talking Heads, recording an album of nursery rhymes produced by Brian Eno"; according to Landesman, "in style and sensibility, this is really a Wes Anderson film, with little Dahl. It’s missing the darker elements that characterise Dahl’s books. There you find the whiff of something nasty: child abuse, violence, misogyny. Gone, too, is any sense of danger. Even the farmers, who are made to look a touch evil, don’t seem capable of it. We never feel the tension of watching the Fox family facing real peril. The film certainly has Americanised Dahl’s story, and I don’t mean the fact that the good animals have American accents and the baddies have British ones. It offers yet another celebration of difference and a lesson on the importance of being yourself. But it does leave you thinking: isn’t it time that children’s films put children first?"
In 2011, Richard Corliss of TIME Magazine named it one of "The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films".
Despite its critical success, the film's box office receipts were overshadowed by other films, particularly The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Up, and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Fantastic Mr. Fox grossed $21,002,919 in the U.S., and $25,468,104 worldwide, making a total of $46,471,023.


The film was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score at the 82nd Academy Awards. The film has also nominated for the 2010 Critics Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature, and the film was also nominated for The 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, but ultimately lost all the nominations to Up.
On January 14, 2010, the National Board of Review awarded Anderson a Special Filmmaking Achievement award. After giving his acceptance speech, the audio of the speech was used in a short animation of Anderson's character (Weasel) giving the speech, animated by Payton Curtis, a key stop-motion animator on the film.

*Being a huge Roald Dahl fan (perhaps even more so than Wes!) I was, naturally, a little sceptical when I went to see the film adaption of 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', and felt unsure that it would live up to my expectations. Whilst many parts were not necessarily to my taste (through changes in the story, mainly) I honestly couldn't imagine any other director doing it better- Wes Anderson's quirky, playful style was perfect for the adaption, and it was a real progression in his career in terms of style and adaption. A really fun film.

No comments:

Post a Comment