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Fantastic Mr Fox

The Fantastic Mr Fox

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

WES Anderson’s Fantastic Mr Fox lives up to its title in more ways than one.

Firstly, it boasts a fantastic voice cast (headed by George Clooney and Meryl Streep); secondly, it looks fantastic (courtesy of its stop motion animation), and thirdly because it offers fantastic entertainment.

Based on Roald Dahl’s classic book, the film stays true to the dark spirit of its source material while successfully merging that quirky Anderson spirit, which has served the likes of The Darjeeling Limited and The Royal Tenenbaums so well.

The result is a film that’s consistently fun but which invites you to care about it’s characters too.

And while Dahl purists may well lament the Americanisation of the source material and its characters, it’s a small criticism when weighed against the entertainment value on show.

The plot remains the same, albeit with extra padding. Mr and Mrs Fox (Clooney and Streep) live an idyllic home life with their son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and visiting nephew Kristofferson (Eric Anderson).

But after 12 years of quiet domesticity, Mr Fox gives in to his animal instincts and returns to his old job of stealing chickens. In doing so, he endangers not only his whole family, but the entire community.

Trapped underground , the animals must band together to fight against the evil farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean.

Among the movie’s many plus points is Anderson’s decision to use the stop motion animation, which gives the film a dated appeal and its distinct quality. It’s a refreshing throwback to a different but no less rewarding style.

His cast, too, excels with Clooney in particular using his trademark charisma to engaging effect. But everyone shines, from Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman to relative unknowns Eric Anderson and Wally Wolodarsky right down to obligatory Brit villains Sir Michael Gambon and Hugo Guinness.

The script is sharp, the set pieces inventive and the whole endeavour a crowd pleasing romp that’s capable of appealing to every age.

As the opening film of the 2009 London Film Festival it also sets off the fortnight in style.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 89mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: March 1, 2010