In Theaters: Saturday 24th October 2009
Production compaines: 20th Century Fox
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
IMDB: 7.4 / 10
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: George Clooney as Mr. Fox (voice), Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox (voice), Jason Schwartzman as Ash (voice), Bill Murray as Badger (voice), Wallace Wolodarsky as Kylie (voice) (as Wally Wolodarsky), Eric Chase Anderson as Kristofferson (voice) (as Eric Anderson), Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean (voice), Willem Dafoe as Rat (voice), Owen Wilson as Coach Skip (voice), Jarvis Cocker as Petey (voice), Wes Anderson as Weasel (voice), Karen Duffy as Linda Otter (voice), Robin Hurlstone as Walter Boggis (voice), Hugo Guinness as Nathan Bunce (voice), Helen McCrory as Mrs. Bean (voice), Roman Coppola as Squirrel Contractor (voice), Juman Malouf as Agnes (voice), Jeremy Dawson as Beaver's Son (voice), Garth Jennings as Bean's Son (voice), Brian Cox as Action 12 Reporter (voice), Tristan Oliver as Explosives Man (voice), James Hamilton as Mole (voice), Steven M. Rales as Beaver (voice) (as Steven Rales), Rob Hersov as Pilot (voice), Jennifer Furches as Dr. Badger (voice), Allison Abbate as Rabbit's Ex-Girlfriend (voice), Molly Cooper as Rabbit Girl (voice), Adrien Brody as Field Mouse (voice), Mario Batali as Rabbit (voice), Martin Ballard as Fire Chief (voice)
Mr Fox (voiced by Clooney) has a pretty fantastic life as a newspaper columnist living in his den with his wife (Streep), surly teen son Ash (Schwartzman) and visiting nephew Kristofferson (Anderson). After Fox convinces his wife to move aboveground to a tree, he becomes tempted to go back to his bird-stealing ways.
And with his possum pal Kylie (Wolodarsky), he goes on a spree that enrages the local farmers, led by the furious Bean (Gambon), who vows revenge. But this puts the entire local animal population in danger.
By focussing on the offbeat family and extended animal community, Anderson shifts the story into his usual exploration of internal angst and interpersonal carnage. While Dahl's central tale about creatures outwitting humans is still there, this is much more a story about a man rediscovering who he really is, namely a wild animal. Fortunately this is explored with wit and energy, some hysterical dialog, terrific characters and absolutely gorgeous animation.
Visually, the film looks timeless, as the old-style stop-motion is deliberately jerky and goofy. This makes it that much more tactile. And the animators brilliantly bring the characters to life, complete with strong emotion and sharp personalities, energetically conveyed by the great vocal cast. And Anderson directs the action with his usual brand of straight-on camerawork, yellow-orange colour scheme and amusing little touches.
At the centre is the idea that a fox can't really be happy without a chicken in his teeth. Obviously, this idea resonates on a deeper level, but the film's essentially a snappy, lightweight comedy. Why Anderson decided to make the animals American even though the humans and the above-ground setting are firmly in Dahl's Britain is anyone's guess. So if the message is a little simplistic, at least the film shows astounding visual innovation. And it's a thoroughly engaging place to spend 90 minutes.