Fantastic, says I, Mr. Fox!

I had the pleasure to get to watch Fantastic Mr. Fox yesterday.
And how delightful it was!

copyright: 20th Century Fox

Now, I’m not familiar with the children’s book by Roald Dahl at all, like, At All. So no baggage there, just in for the ride!
But I have to admit, it took me a while to go from “Ugh, is Mr. Fox gonna suck like that the whole movie?” to “I’m freaking enchanted by every character in that film!” I didn’t really realize who again Wes Anderson, the director, was until the Making Of mentioned him being responsible for The Royal Tenenbaums. So, would I have known, I probably would have been more apprehensive. I know people who love the Tenenbaums, but I called it crap and was so bored by it after an hour that I decided to discontinue my watching of this movie.

What was it that made me doubt the likeability of Mr. Fox at first?
Mh, I was kind of appalled by how macho-know-it-all-Mr. Fox seemed (because hey let’s face it, I’m neither a fan of anything macho nor of anyone knowing it all, or acting like, or both). ‘Seemed’ being the keyword here, we’ll get to that.
I was also not too fond of how his wife Felicity only seemed to be the token female (which admittedly she was). Seemed, not being a keyword here, because Fantastic Mr. Fox does not pass the Bechdel-Test, and that is always a minus in my book unless you come up with something worthy of un-considering the Bechdel-Test or happen to be Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring. So, ultimately I sort of liked Mrs. Fox, but then again always felt and still feel, that she could have been a bit more present and could kick a little more ass, instead of just being a caring Mom and Wife, which really is what she was reduced to.
I did also not like how “quirky little oddities” of every other character were thrown in my face In The Beginning, and I capitalize here, ‘cause that changed.

copyright: 20th Century Fox

How come my mind changed then?
First things first: How incredi-effing-awesome is the animation in this movie?
You don’t have to answer that question: I’ll do that for you.
It’s all stop-motion, it’s all handcrafted with puppets and stuff and it shows. In a GOOD way. OMG, not only is the style chosen for characters and objects and trees and whatnot cute and homely, but everything looks (and feels) like you could just touch it and it would be warm and glow-y and give you a good feeling. The amazing color-palette helping a lot in that department, of course.
What feels really fresh is the use of surprising camera-angles sometimes and the way these characters move. Like they’re puppets, which they are, but like they’ve really come to life – as puppets. I especially like how they all dance and wish I could bust a move like that! Dreams…

When I said that I was annoyed by every character being introduced with a quirky detail I really meant to say that in the beginning of the movie it seemed too obvious and heavy-handed, but after like 20 minutes I didn’t even notice and just had to admire how all the quirkiness was evenly woven in and came off as genuine. Because that is the difficult thing, y’all! I cannot stand to watch some crappy CSI show when the coroner is supposed to be some alternative sarcasm chick just for the sake of having her being an alternative sarcasm chick, because, hey, who would’ve guessed, right? Hate. That. Kind. Of. Stuff.
But here, aww. The funny thing being: When it is too heavy-handed, as it happens with a lot of films and what is actually my main complaint about Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums, it sucks majorly, but when done right, it really creates round and believable characters. Even minor characters like the rat or the farmers, but specially with supporting characters like the son and the nephew, they were able to create the sense that we get to know them and get to see them as full personalities although they only have little actual screen time.

copyright: 20th Century Fox

While I usually hate father-son bonding stories for their oftentimes inherent cheesiness and dumb simplicity, this one here is handled rather nicely to the point that it never really becomes an issue for Mr. Fox apparently, until he just resolves it by saying: “Hey, I’m so glad that you are my son.” Which is all they ever really want to hear, so yay!
My after-the-movie conversation brought up two interesting questions that are truly not answered and are a little puzzling: Why the hell do they never just go somewhere else? And how in the world would having to live in the sewage system for the rest of your life equal a happy ending? Does the children’s book come up with a better explanation?
However, having seen it, there are these questions, but they really don’t take anything away from the feeling that we just got a happy ending.

you can see the second part of the making-of featurette here.

Finally, a few shout-outs, where shout-outs are due: Farmer Bean’s wife rocks so hardcore in this film. I mean, I am all against sexism and stuff, but the way he always calls her (and she apparently does what he wants) and the way she trots around – that is some seriously funny shit!
I’m also very fond of how eyes just turn to little whirls, Xs or stars when people/animals pass out, don’t understand or die. Cute. Or how the animals eat, gobbling things up, no mind on any sort of etiquette. And that weird, freaked-out grin of Mr. Fox showing all his teeth.
And how good is the whole sequence with the wolf? Mr. Fox raising his fist (I giggled) and then the wolf … raising it back, all brotherhood and stuff? I have to giggle a little even now, just remembering the sheer awesomeness of that scene.

copyright: 20th Century Fox

That’s it, I wrap up: Fantastic Mr. Fox is pretty fantastic, Mr. Anderson. And sorries, no image of me holding the DVD, cause, well, I don’t effing own it. So, there.
Nevertheless, go see it, if you haven’t done so yet!

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