Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

A fantastic stop motion animation film about animal instincts and family bonds based on Roald Dahl’s famous children’s novel

7/23/20234 min read

George Clooney voicing for Mr. Fox
George Clooney voicing for Mr. Fox

English, 89 minutes, 2009

Director: Wes Anderson

Music; Alexandre Desplat

Voice Artists: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson

Awards: Nominated, Academy award for Best Animated feature and best original score,2010; Nominated for same two awards at British Academy Film Awards, 2010; Won Best Animation award by New York Film Critics Circle, 2010; Nominated, Best animated award, Golden Globe Award, 2010

Based on a 1970’s children novel by Roald Dahl of the same name, this film is a delightful tale which even though is a lift-off from Children’s novel, has entertained viewers across generations, across ages and if animals could see and enjoy, even among all in animal kingdom, for it talks about basic wild animal instinct.

Mr. Fox (George Clooney) lives with his wife Felicity, (Meryl Streep) and a son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) hunting chicken and other birds which is risky. On one of his adventures, he and his wife get caught in a fox trap where Felicity discloses that she is pregnant and extracts promise from him that he will find a much safer job if they are able to escape alive.

Two years later (which are 12 fox years, we are informed), Mr. Fox is a newspaper columnist now living in a tree hole with his family. He soon shifts to a new house, another tree hole, which overlooks three estates by three mean farmers- Boggis ,Bunce and Beans. Mr. Fox’s lawyer, Clive Badger, cautions him against moving in the “dangerous neighbourhood” but Mr. Fox ignores his advice because he has wild plans. Felicity’s nephew, Kristofferson, comes to live with them because his father is suffering with double pneumonia. Ash can’t stand him as he appears slightly superior to Ash in everything he does.

After some time Mr. Fox gets into action and one by one steals from all the three farmers, along with his friend Kylie (an opossum) breaking his promise made to his wife. This angers the farmers and they rally forces to uproot the tree where Mr. Fox is living with his family. However, foxes get alerted in time as Mr. Fox discover that the three farmers are hiding with guns. Mr. Fox and the family dig hole in the ground and escape the onslaught. In the firing though, Mr. Fox’s tale is shot off. Felicity is cross that Mr. Fox has not kept his promise to her.

Frustrated at not finding Mr. Fox, the three farmers now put earth excavators in force to dig out the ground beneath. This forces beavers and Badgers to flee their burrows too. Mr. Fox organizes all the animals and they dig deep and march to farmers’ own farms and warehouses to steal their stored food and apple cider. This solves the food problem that animals had since they could not come above ground. So while animals are celebrating, Ash, wanting to prove his worthiness to his father, hatches a plan to get the tale from farmer Bean and enlists Kristofferson’s help. Both go to Bean’s house to steal Mr. Fox’s tail back but the plan ends in a major fiasco as Bean’s wife catches Kristofferson as Ash manages to flee.

Meanwhile, the three angry farmers decide to flush out foxes by flooding the tunnels and burrows with apple cider. This forces all the animals to take refuge in sewers. Mr. Fox learns that farmers want him to surrender in exchange of Kristofferson. He decides to comply. But as they are going to surrender, they encounter Bean’s security guard, Rat. A fight ensues and Rat is killed. But before, dying he tells where Kristofferson is locked up. So now Mr. Fox alters his plan of surrender and plan a rescue mission for Kristofferson.

In an heroic fight and to nobody’s surprise, Foxes and animals emerge victorious and not only secure release of Kristofferson but also find a way to maintain their food supply by looting a supermarket run by the three farmers.

This is a typical Wes Anderson film with heavy star-cast for voices and superb music enhancing the film's emotional impact and adding an extra layer of charm to the overall experience. The script, co-written by Anderson and Noah Baumbach, seamlessly blends humor and heart, ensuring that the film appeals to both children and adults alike.

About the director, Wes Anderson

Born in May, 1969 at Houston, Texas, US, Wes Anderson, was attracted towards filmmaking art right in his school days. He used his father’s Super 8 camera to shoot his brothers and other family members.

After School, he took admission in BA with major in philosophy at University of Texas, Austin. While studying he used to work as a part time projectionist at Hogg Memorial Auditorium where he met Owen Wilson, the actor. Through him he met his brother Luke Wilson and the three later collaborated to form a production house American Empirical Pictures.

His first film, made in 1996, was based on a short film by the name ‘Bottle Rocket’ in which Wilsons also performed. The film is about big heists planned by young boys. The film didn’t do well at box office. His Second film, ‘Rushmore’ (1998) was however critically acclaimed and did well at box office too. His next feature was ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ which was his first film to be nominated for all the three awards- Academy, Golden Globe and BAFTA.

He continued to make dazzling films which were different from the normal fare you find. For instance, his 2007 film, ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ portrays story of three brothers travelling on a train in India borrows from Satyajit Ray’s style and admits that Mr. Ray’s films has influenced his films. The film’s music too is influenced by Ray’s films. Soundtrack and music forms integral part of Wes Anderson’s films. This film, ’Fantastic Mr. Fox’ has 27 music and vocal pieces spread over 89 minutes. Another film, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ which is set in 1930s is a comedy drama about the concierge of The grand Budapest hotel who is framed for a wealthy dowager’s murder. The film is hilarious take on history which excelled at box officeand is the highest grossing film by Wes Anderson till date.

Present film is his first stop motion animated feature. His second stop motion animated feature is ‘Isle of Dogs’ made in 2018 which opened the 68th Berlin international Film Festival.