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Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 05:20 am

Sly Fox one of the year’s best films

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Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book Fantstic Mr. Fox.

It’s easy to become jaded about the sort of product Hollywood churns out. Just when I’m about to give up hope that anything innovative or exciting can emerge from Tinseltown, my faith is restored by something like Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Based on the book by Roald Dahl, this dynamic film utilizes stop-motion animation, a dynamic realistic soundtrack and razor-sharp wit to create a rare film that succeeds in entertaining children and adults. It deals with themes each group can relate to while entertaining everyone concerned.

Having settled down to raise a family and stuck in a job he hates, Mr. Fox (voice by George Clooney) is restless and resorts to his old ways to cure his midlife crisis. Unknown to his devoted wife, Mrs. Fox (voice by Meryl Streep), he’s taken to raiding the neighboring farms, a move that results in a wave of retaliatory actions that affects the entire animal community in the region. While Fox regrets this, he revels in the excitement it brings, though he’d be better off paying a bit more attention to his son Ash (voice by Jason Schwartzman), who feels neglected.

The film is absolutely vibrant as Anderson and his crew have rendered the miniature sets and characters with an astonishing attention to detail. Dancing, twirling and scampering across the screen, Mr. Fox and his costars are brought to life being filmed a frame at a time after being moved in tiny increments. Though painstaking, this technique proves freeing for Anderson, who fills each frame with multiple moving characters against lush backgrounds. Buoyed by a soundtrack consisting of ambient sound, the aural realism, combined with the highly stylized animation, produces an aesthetic that’s wholly unique and winning.

The final piece of the puzzle is provided by Clooney and the cast, which also includes Bill Murray, who all provide a genuine quality that’s charming. Smart, sly and fun, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a winner in every sense of the word, proving that Anderson and his crew’s efforts were time well spent.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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