Jun 26, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox Review

image from Amazon

Mr. Fox (George Clooney) is a cleptomaniac, chalking his urge to sneak and steal from farmers as his true animal side. When Mr. Fox's wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) informs him she's pregnant, he gives up the wild side of his life to be a mundane husband and newspaper columnist. Mr. Fox hates his den however and goes shopping for real estate, finding a tree that overlooks three enormous farms, ripe for the thieving. Unfortunately for Mr. Fox these are the meanest most vindictive farmers you've ever met.

The first thing that stands out about this movie is the use of stop-motion animation. Everyone's seen and at some point loved a stop-motion animation film before, as they used to be all the rage. A few of my own favorites include Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Even Tim Burton's Corpse Bride wasn't awful, though not an ideal example of a great example to follow. There were very few points during the film that I forgot how evident the look of the film was and at times it was distracting, but what made it more distracting was the ridiculous Brit-Indie stunts the characters demonstrate. Overall, these factors really weighed the film down more than helping it. The worst offense of the film is definitely the use of "cuss" as a replacement word for any ... cuss-word. There was never any need for it. Real creative people find ways to demonstrate the same emotions without resorting to language censorship.

What I really liked about the film were the characters. Everyone had their own story going on. Mr. Fox was the middle-aged midlife crisis father/husband, his son was the awkward angsty teen that blames everyone else for his isolation, Mr. Fox's nephew was the victim who couldn't help that he was taught great feats by his own ailing father. The plot as a whole really worked in the film's favor.

My Highlights:
William Dafoe playing a sinister rat that works for one of the evil farmers. The Rat has a long and storied history with Mr. Fox and appear to be old rivals. For all the sinister acts the rat portrays in the film however, his ending is really sweet.

Overall Rating:
There were moments in the film I really didn't understand who the target audience was. Lots of the plot moments felt far too mature for kids, which is who you would think a cartoon is created for. Also the animation and language censorship, "barriers" I'm sure the creators called them were very distracting at times. Still not a bad movie though, just some odd production decisions made. 3 1/2 *'s out of 5 or 7 1/2 *'s out of 10.

When You Should See It:
If you're really into artsy films or studying animation then see it right away. I'm not sure if kids would really like the film but they might if they're about 7-12. So if you've also got kids in that age range it'd be worth it to test this movie out on them. Otherwise it's a film not worth the effort to see, but not worth the effort to avoid. Cable TV on a boring night worthy.

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