This review was written by our Austrian correspondent, Professor007
Maybe it’s my lack of familiarity with the underlying children’s story, but despite being positively biased after experiencing the star-studded line-up at the opening of the 53rd London Film Festival, the film not only left me completely cold but started to seriously annoy me towards the end.
The story is as follows: Mr. Fox (voice by George Clooney) does what foxes do, he steals and kills chickens. He does so also when meeting his lovely future wife, Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep), but after both get trapped during this pursuit, he promises to his wife that he would never steal chickens again and start a proper job instead – writing a column for the local newspaper. However, after 12 (fox) years living the happy, but rather average family life and raising a son (who turns out to be a bit of a loser), his old ambition for recognition and admiration overwhelms him and he decides to rob the gruesome humans Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. After some initial success, the humans decide to fight back, however, and thus starts a colossal battle between animal and human foes. Unsurprisingly, after several increasingly absurd confrontations, the Foxes win and everyone is happy.
So what made it bad? Firstly, none of the sub-plots was sufficiently developed nor particularly convincing. The supposed initial happy love story between Mr & Mrs Fox did not come across on screen, nor did the conflict that arose following his breach of his promise. The conversations between the two appeared haphazard and neither witty nor deep. Similarly, it is unclear how “ueber-foxian” Mr. Fox feels about his underachieving son: he only shows some positive emotion following a completely unexplained mega-performance during the final rescue mission. And the list goes on. Secondly, I also found the film “technologically” disappointing: the voices didn’t seem to properly match the movements of the animated figures and the detail in the graphics has been done better elsewhere.
It’s not that I don’t like animated films per se, Finding Nemo made me laugh and cry and Ratatouille was exceptionally sweet. Wes Anderson might tell me that this stop motion movie is a different kettle of fish. Maybe, but do I care?
FANTASTIC MR FOX opened London 2009 and goes on release in the UK on October 23rd. It opens in the US on November 13th; in Singapore on Nov 19th; in Romania on Nov 20th; in the US on Nov 25th; in Italy on Nov 26th; in Brazil on Dec 4th; in France on Dec 23rd; in Sweden on Dec 25th; in Australia on Jan 7th; in Tawian on Jan 23rd; in Russia and Finland on Jan 28th; in Germany, Estonia and Norway on Feb 5th; in Belgium on Feb 10th; in the Netherlands on Feb 18th; in Argentina on March 4th and in Denmark on March 10th.
Eventual tags: children, animation, wes anderson, roald dahl, bill murray, goerge clooney, meryl streep, adrien brody, owen wilson, willem dafoe, jason schwartzman, brian cox, michael gambon, angelica huston, helen mccrory, roman coppola, garth jennings, jarvis cocker,