Fantastic Mr. Fox talkback

Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox opens today in New York and Los Angeles. The mainstream movie critics love it. Rotten Tomatoes is saying 91% Fresh on the Tomatometer based on the 77 reviews garnered so far.

The film has stirred debate among animation fans. Those who have seen clips or the trailer are not thrilled. However, most who have actually seen the film, love it. I loved it.

I love that this stop motion film is as far away from Coraline (which I love equally), Mary & Max and A Town Called Panic (two incredibly strong films) as it can get. I love Anderson’s take on the story, the performances of the voice cast …and even the intentionally funky character animation won me over.

What did you think? If you’ve actually seen the film, post comments below.


  • it’s pat

    Among my very favorite handful of animated features now. Won my respect for Wes Anderson, who I didn’t like before this. The things he does with characters in live action that I don’t like (self awareness, or pretention… calculated and contrived situations… like seeing the strings) – it works really well with what animation does.

    Been many many years since I read the original book. This movie was true to the story I remembered but that was only part of it. Wes anderson filled in the spaces with his own choices for how the characters related, and made it all his.

    Talked to the animation director, and he told me a little about working from storyboards to set up the shots. The stylish framing is one thing that sets this movie apart from other animated features. Many POV tracking shots, cutaway and graphically composed shots, and bold choices like a character’s POV directly up at a ceiling, which you wouldn’t see elsewhere. I also liked the use of visual jokes and absurd cuts away from the main scene to something unexpected.

    Highly recommended movie.

  • Thomas

    What Where The Wild Things Are should have been.

  • Joe Apel

    I really enjoyed it as well. I really hope it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of films this Thanksgiving when it is released wide.
    It definitely deserves to be nominated for best animated feature.

  • http://www.segaltoons.com/ Steve Segal

    I saw it at the San Francisco Animation Festival with animation director Mark Gustafson in attendance. It’s funny and charming and lovely to look at. George Clooney does a great job as does the rest of the cast. It displays Wes Anderson’s quirky sense of humor well. And the animation is a style all it’s own, with some herky-jerky moves and several unrealistic touches, but funny nonetheless less. If you like the King Kong (1933) dancing fur aesthetic, you’ll appreciate this. It did seem to wear thin after about an hour and it seemed to repeat itself a little, but overall an enjoyable experience. You gotta love a movie that has the guts to use the Beach Boys killer Heroes and Villains so prominently in the soundtrack.

  • http://Www.karrotanimation.com Jamie B

    Saw it tonight, and I can’t actually avoid using the word fantastic to describe it – it’s a visual delight from the get go, with such wonderfully well drawn characters. The relationsip between Ash (Fox’s son) and Kristofferson (Ash’s cousin) is terrific and a joy to watch unfold. The frame is used so playfully throughout, and it’s just brilliant to see a live action director with such flair turn his hand to animation to create a feature that takes advantage of the medium’s strengths so well. I think it’ll shake up a lot of preconceptions about what an animated feature can be.

    In my Oscar top 5 for sure, and it’s turning into an absolutely vintage year for features! Please don’t let any trailers of clips put you off seeing this – in context, and right from the get-go, everything about it just works.

  • Buzz Potamkin

    I saw it earlier this week. After the trailer, I too was worried. Not so. Delightful, and short enough to keep. Yeah, there’s some fur action, plus it’s not Coraline-smooth. Just makes it realer to me. And the story fits the anim: light and fluffy.

    The audience was “civilian” (i.e., non-anim): live guilds and fellow-travelers mostly. They were floored, and wanted to know from whence this “new technique” came.

    It’s the best Wes Anderson film, period. And will probably be his highest gross. (In other words, will surpass $52.4MM.)

    NOTE: SPOILER FOLLOWS

    Only worry for gross is on-screen death; not Bambi downer (it’s the villain), but may keep younger kids away, which is a shame, as it’s the best kids’ film of the holidays (so far).

  • Andrew

    I was totally skeptical when I saw the trailer- it seemed like it was going to be suffocatingly twee and self-aware, and the weird mix of taxidermy and Rankin/Bass seemed like it would be painfully distracting. Boy was I wrong!

    This movie is charming, original, and an absolute joy to look at. The animation style completely throws out the book on Disney-type “Illusion of Life” animation. Instead of laboriously smoothed-over arcs and antics, realistic anatomy, and overly animated fingers fluttering on ones, we have characters that lurch and pop from pose to pose, often contorting into shapes that are very flat yet often very effective. The result was jarring at first, but then proved wonderfully fresh and at times hilarious. It was exciting, kinetic stuff, and the audience I saw it with absolutely got it.

    As for the story, it was surprisingly tight for a Wes Anderson film, and quirky in a way that felt natural and entertaining- everything about this film was bold and confident- nothing about it showed the sweaty, indecisive middle-of-the-roadness that you would see in a Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, etc etc etc type film. This was a clear, undiluted artists vision- AND it was entertaining!

    It seems like such a natural progression of Wes Anderson’s visual style, it makes one wonder why it took him so long to direct an animated feature. When a visionary director takes a chance and goes in the exact opposite direction of the animation industry in his storytelling and visual presentation, and does it succesfully, we all benefit. Everyone who cares about animation should see this film.

  • Matt Sullivan

    I LOVE it. LOVE it..and I was the one initially turned off by it’s crudeness. But now I just wanna dive through thescreen and live in that world. And the characters were great. You really feel for little Ash even though he’s being a jerk half the time. Kristofferson is so clearly defined and of his own world, and Mr. and Mrs. Fox really compliment each other.

    Man, I’m gonna go back and see it at least 2 more times this weekend. Fun!

  • matt

    I’m so glad everyone seems to love it, because after the trailer I couldn’t help thinking that they’d completely perverted the feel of Roald Dahl’s (and the fox in general) quintessential BRITISHness. This seems so utterly American. The language, the music (although I do love Heroes and Villains), the uber-American droll banter etc, in contrast to the animation which does seem to have an English flavour about it.

    Feeling better about seeing it now.

  • Matt Sullivan

    One other thing I was sold on the film right from the very first shot of Mr. Fox standing atop the hill. I don’t know how, but at that moment I thought “Oh man, this is gonna be good”

  • Mac

    I didn’t realise this film had only just been released in the states, this has been out for a few weeks in the UK and I thought the rest of world was largely ignoring it! It’s been really well advertised over here too so I expect it’s been doing quite well (I was surprised to see much more advertising for this than Up which several of my friends still hadn’t heard of two weeks after its release).

    Anyway, I really enjoyed this film – shutting me right up after being skeptical of the trailers! My biggest problem, before seeing the whole film, was hearing such American voices for British characters. I’d seen features about how the artists had so painstakingly recreated authentic English details and even things from Dahl’s own home and couldn’t understand how Clooney and co’s voices would fit. But they worked perfectly right from the outset in this offbeat version of the tale. Great fun from start to finish with many delightfully weird gags.

  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

    This is a good example of one strong-minded director bringing style and class to an animated project. The animation wasn’t as slick as we’ve come to expect from stop-motion, these days, but it felt absolutely charming and delightful. The celebrity actors brought a sense of humor to their work and all were in the film for a good time. Including the audience.

  • Oliver

    As with all Wes Anderson’s work, as witty and detailed as ‘Fox’ is, it could do with a few more honest-to-goodness, low-brow belly laughs. Take a look, for example, the perfectly entertaining slapstick he solemnly cut from ‘The Life Aquatic’ (available as deleted scenes on the DVD).

  • Gepinniw

    Mark Kermode (UK reviewer) pretty much savaged this movie, but his voice is apparently in the minority. Anderson’s Rushmore is one of my all-time faves, and I love good stop motion (Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit tops my list in that category) so I’ll definitely be checking it out. My only question is whether to take my two boys, ages 4 & 6. Any recommendations?

  • Matt Sullivan

    The majority of UK reviewers seem to love the film. As for those of you who are put off by the American accents, I don’t know why. We have British actors playing Americans all the time, usually to great acclaim. They’re speaking English, and that’s good enough for me. For some reason it’s okay to bash American actors, but never any other English-speaking “commonwealther” Get over it.

    Gepinniw, of course you can take your kids. Any “adult” jokes will fly right over their heads. The only thing I can see parents complaining about is seeing a character brandishing a knife, and several character smoking ( both pipes and cigarettes)

  • purin

    It was cussin’ hilarious! The animation itself lent a quirkiness that helped the humor, I think, and the movie took advantage of its odd look for plenty of sight gags. Some of them were genius.

    The audience loved it, but I don’t think there was one child in the theater. Kids probably would like it. I think it entertains on both adult and kid levels. The inevitable moral parts for this sort of “dad screws up plot” don’t last long enough to feel like you’re getting hit in the head with the lesson of the day.

    The film does have a dark side (a key element of a good children’s movie, if you ask me). After all, foxes kill chickens (in a cartoony Xs-for-eyes sort of way), and theft, not to mention arson, is definitely not kosher behavior. But, you know, they make children’s toys for the likes of The Dark Knight, so if that’s what little children are watching, then there’s nothing in Fantastic Mr. Fox they can’t handle.

  • brik-a-brak

    Where the Wild Things Are was perfect, Thomas.

  • Matt Crowther

    Have not seen it yet, not sure when it will open here in Atlanta. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a very high 92% favorable score overall and 100% among the “top critics”. Cannot wait to see this now, sounds wonderful.

  • Sylvain

    Haven’t seen it yet, but I learned that I can safely ignore the ridiculously strong opinions of the animation community (along with the usual astroturfing), when those opinions are only based on a trailer. I hope to see it in 2 weeks with the wide release. I have high expectations and I wish I didn’t know so much about the film!

  • matt

    Matt Sullivan, I’m not sure if you understood what I was getting at. You miss the point completely about the American thing – it’s not just that the accents are American, it’s that the characters seem to pervert the extreme BRITISHness of what they are in the book and seem quite American in both humour and personality. The whole reason for the fox itself is it’s inherent English-ness. Even Tex Avery made his fox James Mason-ish! As for British actors playing Americans all the time, that’s not the same thing at all. And besides, when they do it they fake an American accent, making your point redundant and inconsistent. This isn’t American actors doing English accents. “Get over it”? After making an unsubstantiated statement about bashing American actors? O-kaaay…

    Let me say it again- when much of the point of Dahl’s stories is in caricaturing traits and attributing them to nations (mainly England) in sort of a similar way to Orwell (that may be drawing a long bow but anyway), it seems to me that yes everyone may love this, it may be a great film, but it doesn’t seem like ROALD DAHL’S Fantastic Mr Fox, so why push the connection and how ‘faithful’ they were trying to be? And why on Earth is he even a fox if he’s not English? I thought it was a fair question to put to those who have seen the film and enjoyed it, that’s all.

  • http://leestilldraws.blogspot.com/ Lee

    I saw this a couple of weeks ago and was instantly charmed by it. The visuals are different and the script is witty, original and interesting, but it doesn’t take anything away from Dahls book, infact it compliments it. I’m ashamed to say I was one of those who was sceptical when I first saw the trailer.

    One of my favourite films of the years

  • http://theAMIGOunit.com Milton

    As a huge wes anderson fan, I can honestly say I enjoyed it as much as Rushmore.

    I’ve had trouble enjoying anything as much as Rushmore.

    The design is beautiful and the animation is excellent. It reminds me of the stop motion i remember as a kid and all I read as a kid was Rhold Dahl.

    Up, Coraline and Mary and Max paled in comparison. Ponyo was sick but even Miyasaki couldn’t make magic like this.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    I haven’t seen it yet, and we probably won’t see it in Spain until April, but I must admit the second trailer looks A LOT better than the first one. The gags are funnier and the story and characters look more promising.

  • Paul

    Like it! Trailer looks awful but film looks, uhmm, fantastic.
    Love the details, definitely a visual feast. Surprisingly, the animation looks realistic, unlike in the trailers where the movements were kinda static. The puppets facial expressions are admirable too, particularly Ash and Mr. Fox. Even the baddies (the farmers) are humanlike. Bean is quite scary.
    I always loved stop-motion but all I get to see are claymation films. First time to see one with furs.
    Regarding the dialogues, yes, it can be a bit unsettling if one thinks this movie is for kids. Terms like “existentialism” are thrown in and most of the lines are in the sarcastic, wry mode, like an animated version of Juno. Also, there are complaints from purists about it being too Americanized. But if they love it over there (the UK), who am I to complain? It helps that I have not read the book nor have seen any of Anderson’s previous works. My biggest gripe shall be Rat’s (Willem Dafoe) very small part.

  • Matt Sullivan

    there are foxes in America you know :}

  • Bill Turner

    Loved it. I almost skipped a screening because I’m not an Anderson fan and it looked, well, cheap. Now I want to see it again and again. I giggle just thinking about a few scenes, lines or details. The hard part will be deciding between this and UP which I also loved. Two very, very different movies and each strong in different areas.

  • En Ming Hee

    Now as someone who watched the British “Wind in the Willows” series as a child and thought (and still think) WitW is the second or third greatest piece of talking animal literature ever written (first being unequivocally “Animal Farm”) and one of the finest books of all time, the film did not turn out what I would expect. But it still works.

    What its mise-en-scene reminds me of however is Disney’s version of Robin Hood. Not just in a vulpine outlaw hero, but also the manner in which British and American mannerisms are freely mixed in its world (British humans, American animals, it seems), and I guess it’s destined to be a cult favorite likewise. It even features “Love” from the latter on its soundtrack. Along with the strange mix of mannerisms are some Western-esque action sequences involving the farmers and a rat who fights with a switchblade to the tune of Ennio Morriconesque mariachi music. It all adds up to a whole that’s certainly unique.

    What is the make of break factor is that the whole enterprise is deliberately kept “unreal” with a certain self-awareness, and in that sense it’s clearly an auteurist piece, where the aesthetic concerns of the film shape it more than anything else. The charm of the British stop-motion “Wind in the Willows” movie and its attendant series was that it was so well done you did not need to think twice to wonder why a man-sized toad was driving a motorcar. You just BOUGHT IT. Here the enterprise has a deliberately surreal air about it while it pays homage to the heist genre. The fact that farmers’ farms are decked out like fortresses, the ringleader of the farmers behaves like a sort of Bond supervillain with his own private security force, the eclectic soundtrack, and the deliberately self-referential musical number where the farmer’s head henchman (voiced by Jarvis Cocker) just bursts into song around a campfire all don’t distract from that. My personal quibble with the film that it’s a film where the story serves the aesthetic and not the other way around, and that I think greatly reduced my enjoyment of the film.

    Overall, this film seems to want to do to baby boomer idealism what “Wind in the Willows” (the novel) was doing for an ultimately conservative British pastoralism. My mind agrees it is a well-made film, but ultimately my heart cannot go with it.