Wes Anderson has played with animation in the past (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) but never has he created an entirely animated film. This does not seem to have been a problem for the talented writer/director. The target this time out is the 1970 Roald Dahl novel Fantastic Mr. Fox. Anderson has taken the tale of a fox's fight with a trio of nasty farmers and translated it into stop-motion animation. The end result is a mesmerizing film that is unlike anything that has been on the screen this year. That is not to say it is my favorite, but there is definitely something about the movie that makes it very easy to be drawn into.
Wes Anderson is an interesting filmmaker. He is someone whose films I tend to admire and enjoy to a certain level although I cannot be called a fan. There is always something about them that turns me off. I went into Fantastic Mr. Fox hoping not to have a repeat of my experience with The Darjeeling Limited two years ago. I was happy to discover how much I ended up enjoying this one. I am not sure I got any deep meaning out of it, but the style and Anderson's quirky sensibilities combined into an animated stew that just clicked. It made me laugh, it made me smile, it thoroughly entertained me. It does not hurt that we do not get that many stop-motion animated films.
I overheard a funny comment as my screening began. It sounded like the voice of a teenager. As the film started and we see Mr. Fox standing on a hill with his wife walking towards him the voice says: "That looks so fake." It struck me as an odd comment. Were they expecting a realistic movie about talking animals? The movie is clearly a fantasy and it works great as is. The stop motion gives it an otherworldly feel that suits Anderson's inherent quirkiness.