DIR: Wes Anderson • WRI: Roald Dahl, Noah Baumbach, Wes Anderson • PRO: Nelson Lowry Wes Anderson, Allison Abbate, Scott Rudin • ED: Ralph Foster, Stephen Perkins, Andrew Weisblum • DOP: Tristan Oliver • CAST: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray
Today, in an era of jaw-dropping special effects and larger-than-life tales of Greek Gods, superheroes and 3D creatures who oddly resemble Smurfs, we find a man called Wes Anderson. Wes, in his first sole venture into an animated universe, is having none of it. Wes instead, invites us to join him in his newly settled den, where old style stop-motion magic has occurred and tells us a story from our childhood, of three mean, old and cowardly men and a creature, a fantastic creature called Mr. Fox.
The first time I read, the beautifully descriptive and creative ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ by Roald Dhal was in primary school, as part of world book day and my class had a read-a-thon in which everyone in my class had to read a book for each week of the read-a-thon to earn sponsorship. I’ll be honest; I only read one book, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. But I read it every week. As a child, I never dreamt it would become a living filmic creation. On hearing that this would soon be made true by Wes Anderson, my heart soared at the thought and my head doubted the reality. It has taken him ten years to reach this point and so we shouldn’t be surprised that Wes has, with his pipe-cleaner animals, achieved a result that is so unique, charming and funny.
The story starts and finishes with Mr. Fox’s (George Clooney) inability to settle down, in his ‘’mid-life crisis’’, as he — roping in his fool of a best friend, Rickity — plots a series of foolish raids on nearby farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean (And Roald Dahl’s rhyme “one short, one fat, one lean”, that I sang for days on end). The consequence, and there are many, is that Mr. Fox will lose his tail (Terrifying thought when your eight) and the animal community will be left in disarray. Meanwhile, and here comes the Wes stuff, Mr. Fox also can’t connect with his self-centred cub, Ash (Jason Schwartzman), a situation made worse by the arrival of nephew and all-round top-fox at everything, including chicken robbery.
Such storytelling delight is not created by the technique of stop-motion animation. It is in the fusing of script and style that ingeniously conveys character, humour and a hint of nostalgia. Anderson and his astuteness along with his talented animators, make the carefree see-the-joints styles possess a finery of subtly about it. The creepy movement of the human characters Boggis, Bunce and Bean is visualised with wicked élan. Wes infuses the script effortlessly with the technique. George Clooney’s Mr. Fox is smarmy both in the actor’s unhurried delivery of his mid-life crisis and in silky texture, while Meryl Streep’s Mrs. Fox on the other hand, gentle with a softness in her voice even when her husband’s endeavours lead a never-ending tribulation of tricky situations. Although it is subtly old-fashioned and provoking for Dahl fans, but for a film so seemingly daft, it’s just as I dreamt it.
Cian Tracey, Aged 18
Winner 16–18 Category
Cinemagic’s Young Critic Competition