Lucien’s Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. FoxPart of me is so glad that Wes Anderson’s movies are becoming more accepted by the mainstream, because this man has a gift.  His comedy is absurd, and the acting in his movies even moreso.  It’s like this strange mix of cute and awkward.  Everything is strange, in every movie he’s ever made.  But as strange as it all is, it’s still adorable.  This man can’t make a normal movie to save his life, but bless him, he’s got a gift where it matters most.  I honestly can’t think of another director who can do it as well as Wes Anderson, whatever you call his style.  This movie is no exception.  Perhaps it’s fitting that he has adapted a book by Roald Dahl.  That man couldn’t tell a normal story to save his life either.  These two were made for each other.

In true Wes Anderson fashion, the plot of this is ridiculous.  A fox named Mr. Fox is a master thief.  He’s spent the better part of his years steaming chickens, turkeys, pidgeons and other things from the local farmers.  However, when his girlfriend at the time tells him that she’s pregnant, he has to give up the criminal life and settle in to something more domestic.  Several fox years later (yes, that’s a thing in this movie), Mr. Fox is now living in a hole in the ground, but he dreams of better things.  After using his badger lawyer (yes, that’s a thing in this movie) to get into some prime real estate, he is too tempted by the potential for thieving to stay in retirement.  Thus begins an utterly absurd plot that goes all over the place for no reason at all, only to end in a place that you think to yourself – why?  Just…why?

This movie is absurd, in every way.  But while it makes no sense at all, this movie bleeds style.  It’s done in claymation, which fits.  But while the animation is old-school, this movie moves fast!  I mean really fast!  I’m not talking about plot.  I mean the animation.  Some of the one-take shots are just amazing.  Anderson has a style where he likes to move laterally in his films.  Nowhere is that more on display than right here.  Part of what makes the comedy in this film work is just how fast it moves.  But the visual style is all this films own, and it makes how absurd it is work just great.

Which brings me to the acting.  Wes Anderson has a gift at bringing out this strange ability for people in his movies to be both engaged and detached at the same time.  That’s the only way I can think to describe it.  It makes pretty much every character really interesting.  I’m trying to think of a word for the acting style in Anderson’s movies.  Awkward-confident?  I don’t really know.  But it’s a style that only Anderson can master.  The best role is, of course, Mr Fox.  George Clooney brings that role to light in such a fantastic way.  For whatever strange reason, the lead member of every cast that Anderson puts together is always perfect for the role.

But the best thing about this movie is the comedy.  Unlike modern American comedy films, this movie is drowning in visual comedy.  It is such a lost art.  There is also this strange aspect of the film.  Like it’s modern, but not.  Part of the strange universe that the film makes.  It makes for some great juxtaposition between elements of this movie.  But if you are going to enjoy this kind of comedy, you have to have a LOT of patience for things that make no sense at all.  Things that will leave you wondering – why?  Just…why?  Random moments that come right the hell out of nowhere, and are never addressed again.  Or if they are addressed, it’s in a strange way.  At no point does anything about this movie feel ordinary.

It’s hard to really give a good review of a Wes Anderson film.  How do you describe something that never makes any sense?  I will say that this is a very funny movie.  A lot of the comedic elements take old films standards and mix them with an almost British style, yet with an American twist of comedic acting.  Visual, awkward, and character driven.  That’s how I can describe it!  It’s Wes Anderson doing what he does best.  Take it for what you will.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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