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Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

bill bodkin dives into Wes Anderson’s latest fantastical film …

Wes Anderson has proven once again that he makes movies that are quote, unquote fantastic.

Based on the 1970 childrens’ book by beloved author Roald Dahl (James & The Giant Peach, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory), Anderson is able to take his tried and true film formula (families with issues, mainly revolving around the father figure) and apply it to the genre of stop motion animation. The result: genius. The same way we felt about Anderson after viewing Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums — yet a feeling a large portion of the movie going audience may have forgotten after The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited.

The plot, like any childrens’ book, is quite simple. Former chicken thief extraordinaire Mr. Fox (played to a charmingly brilliant hilt by George Clooney) wants to reclaim the glory of his youth and sets out to plunder the farms of Boggis, Bunce and Bean, the top farmers in the area. But Fox is found out by these crusty and clever farmers, and his life — as well as of those of his family and friends — are put in danger, and it’s up to Fox (and ultimately the friends and family) to save the day.

What makes the film work on all levels is the performance of Clooney. A rookie to the Anderson world, Clooney brings that Frank Sinatra ring-a-ding-ding charm we saw in the Ocean’s movies and that affable fool persona he perfected in O Brother, Where Art Thou? The combination makes for Anderson’s best father figure character since Gene Hackman donned a pink tie in The Royal Tenenbaums. Like Royal, Fox is a rascally figure, always in trouble, always scheming but in the end, a really lovable family man.

Not far behind Clooney’s excellence is Jason Schwartzman’s performance as Fox’s “different” son, Ash. The petulant and eternally grumpy version of his dad, Ash is Schwartzman’s best character since he donned a red beret in Rushmore. With the same brilliant, fragile and stubborn personality as Max Fischer, Ash’s antics with his uber-talented cousin Kristoferson would have stolen the film had it not been for “fantastic” performance by Clooney.

Of course, no Wes Anderson movie would be complete without Bill Murray. As Badger, Fox’s attorney, Murray’s performance brings a warm sense and comfort to the film — because you literally cannot imagine an Anderson movie without him in it.

Coupled with these three great performances (as well as ones by Meryl Streep and Willem Dafoe), it’s the animation in Mr. Fox that makes it so amazing — jaws will literally drop at some of the scenes. The nuance of these scenes, like in any Anderson movie, is almost unfathomable. From the bristling whiskers on Fox’s face to the knick-knacks in his house, you have to appreciate the amount of thought that goes into Anderson’s films. Also, the use of stop-motion animation as opposed to the Pixas CGI technique gives it a dual sense of antiquity and timelessness, much like The Royal Tenenbaums. There’s a throwback feel to the days of ’70s British kiddie shows like Paddington Bear, with a hint of the modern Wallace & Gromit cartoons here — it’s all very familiar yet extremely new and fresh.

What Wes Anderson has created with this film is another American classic to add to his cinematic cannon. Like a warm blanket on a blustery December evening, you can always turn on Fox, like you can Tenenbaums and Rushmore and enjoy a story that is both funny and emotional yet in the end comforting and a feeling of comfort — like after mom would finish reading you a bedtime story (like Mr. Fox), just before you dozed off to dreamland.

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.


  1. Did you ever consider becoming GC’s publisist? Excellent review.
    PS Tell the blonde guy his review was also tremendous.

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