Fantastic Mr Fox
And some people say Clooney’s hairline is receding.

Theatrical Release Date: 11/25/2009
Director: Wes Anderson
Featuring the Voices of: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Scwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson, Brian Cox, Adrien Brody, Mario Batali

I want to make sure to get this on the record up front. I’m not a Wes Anderson devotee and the trailers for his latest film, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” worried me because of its animation style which didn’t appeal to me. That being said, the film ended up being a pleasant, family friendly (though its dry wit may lull kids into a nap) adaptation of the Roald Dahl work of the same name.

Much of this is due to the nice voice over work from George Clooney, playing the titular Mr. Fox. All of his charm and joviality come through loud and clear, infusing the otherwise dry humor script with much needed life. Had Anderson stuck with one of his normal crew, i.e. a Wilson brother (though Owen does play a supporting character), Mr. Fox would have lacked the energy necessary to keep the action moving along as well as it did.

The story concerns Mr. Fox restarting a life of chicken, duck and apple cider heists after starting a family causes him to walk the straight and narrow. As he gets bolder and bolder in his actions, the humans’ response threatens not only Mr. Fox, but his family and local animal community. As one would imagine, they all join forces and the cunning nature of the animal kingdom presents itself to the bumbling, arrogance of the humans trying to show their superiority via technology and brute force.

The animation style that had worried me so much going in actually worked in the film’s benefit. Going with the more current 3D CGI would have been at complete odds with the brand of humor and created a disconnect the intended adult audience would have had trouble with. Instead, the herky jerky stop motion quality of it all was almost like an extra character.

Perhaps the best compliment I can pay the film is that I largely forgot that it was a Wes Anderson film, what with Clooney’s voice work adding so much life to the project. However, I wouldn’t ever say that I was excited by any of the elements, so “Fantastic Mr. Fox” just receives a passing 3 out of 5. I enjoyed watching it but won’t be awaiting the DVD release or adding an pay channel subscription to see it again.