Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox (****)

Fantastic Mr. Fox. 87 mins. PG. Directed by Wes Anderson. Written by Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach. Starring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Willem Dafoe.

Welcome back, Wes Anderson! Who would have guessed that stop-motion animation would have been the perfect fit for Anderson's one-of-a-kind artistic and comedic sensibilities? Fantastic Mr. Fox is, as its title implies, quite fantastic indeed. Based on the book by Roald Dahl, and adapted for the screen by Anderson and Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale), the movie is a nimble, quick-witted visual marvel. The voice cast is top notch, with George Clooney in full-on Danny Ocean mode as Mr. Fox, a devious chicken thief coming out of retirement, who sets his sights on three local farmers. Also great is Jason Schwartzman, stealing every scene he's in as Ash, Fox's outcast, eccentric son. Anderson loads the movie with clever gags, hilarious throwaway lines (love the use of "Cussin" in place of actual swear words), and his patented quirky cool production design. The stop-motion animators' work is a joy to behold and endlessly interesting to watch. Equally charming and funny, Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the best of the year. Kids should take to it, and adults will find themselves equally smitten, if not more so.

- John


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