The visually ravishing animated movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox follows a fox, voiced by George Clooney and dressed in a natty brown corduroy suit, as he cheerfully and recklessly takes his thieving ways a little too far and brings down the wrath of some sour-faced poultry farmers on his family and friends.
Based on a lesser-known book by children’s author Roald Dahl (who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach), the movie is the work of Wes Anderson (writer-director of Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums), who expanded and elaborated on the original story; the combination is inspired. Anderson’s sensibility — his fondness for meticulous compositions, coordinated colors, and narrative filigree — can sometimes seem finicky and stiff in live-action movies, but it’s exquisitely suited to the painstaking art of stop-motion animation. Every corner of the screen crackles with visual invention and whimsical humor.
The top-notch vocal cast (which also features Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Michael Gambon, Owen Wilson, and others) create vivid personalities that perfectly mesh with the movie’s lush colors and luscious textures. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is an off-beat gem, a giddy mix of adult emotional issues, wild animal behavior, and childlike delight.
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