Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Reviewed on 2010 May 2
I’m always impressed with a good family movie — something that you wouldn’t object to your children seeing but you as an adult can laugh at — because I think it’s so hard to pull off. It’s too easy to veer into cloying. I was at a family gathering once where I was sort of a captive audience for what felt like an endless loop of Barney videos, and after the first half hour I think I’d have given my right arm for this. (I was in another room but the Purple Lizard sort of cut through walls like a dental drill.) If the little people in your family ever want you to pollute your DVD player with “Barney Sees his Shadow” or some such, just remember this isn’t a bad counter-offer.
Mr. Fox, a.k.a. “Foxy” (voiced by George Clooney, appropriately enough), is quite a chicken thief and fox-about-town, plundering critters and other goodies from farmers until his wife (Meryl Streep )extracts a promise from him to give up the life. She’s going to have a kit, and doesn’t want her spouse’s pelt to become some angry farmer’s trophy. Foxy reluctantly agrees to give up the life, and settles for a suave newspaper byline, though he wonders if his friends Badger (a grumpy attorney voiced by Bill Murray) or Weasel (a real estate agent, voiced by Wes Anderson) read the thing. Wondering if this is all there is to life, Fox breaks his word to his wife and decides to pull off the ultimate heist, starting with a farmer famed for his chickens.
One on level, it’s cute fluffy animals. On the other, it’s watching foxes and badgers, of all things, ponder the meaning of life. Mr. Shukti and I both liked the humor, silly stuff mixed with some surprisingly dry lines and the odd Rolling Stones or Beach Boys song. I also got a kick out of the fact that the critters looked like Steiff plush animals brought to jerky, stylized life. Oh, and according to writer and director Wes Anderson, P.E. class is miserable for most animal children too.
Three chocolate morsels. Roald Dahl characters + great vocal talent = win.