Saturday, January 2, 2010
FANTASTIC MR. FOX / ***½
Release Date: November 13, 2009
Running Time: 87 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with filmmaker Wes Anderson over the years. The first time I saw his “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums,” I became a big fan of his. He got great performances from actors I love, like Bill Murray and Gene Hackman. Then along came “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” I was confounded by how much I disliked a film with so many actors that I liked in it. After that he unveiled “The Darjeeling Limited,” which was even worse. So I went back and watched “Rushmore” and “Tenenbaums,” and even went back to his debut film, “Bottle Rocket.” It finally struck me that his films were trying so hard to be quirky and offbeat that they stopped feeling real.
So how ironic is it then that I find his most honest and real film to be his latest, the stop-motion animated “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The inimitable George Clooney plays the title character, a fox that has spent the majority of his adult life as an outlaw. When he meets his mate Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep, only the greatest actor of all time), and they have a cub, Ash (Anderson vet Jason Schwartzman), he promises to settle down.
Like most life-long bandits, Mr. Fox desires one last big score. He sets up a scheme to raid the farms of the three most prolific farmers in town – Franklin Bean (the deliciously vile Michael Gambon), Walter Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), and Nathan Bunce (Hugo Guinness).
From there the story follows a tried and true formula – hero messes up his big score, gets everyone else in trouble, has to think of a way to get everyone out of trouble, and is forgiven in the end. I wonder why more people didn’t complain about the recycled nature of this story the same way they complained about that little move James Cameron made?
But I digress – I care not about whether stories are recycled or not, as long as they are presented in a fashion that is engaging and entertaining, and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is certainly both of those things.
Theater: RDM Westroads 14, Omaha, NE
Time: 735 pm
Date: November 29, 2009