The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales (4 stars)

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Hilarious and beguiling French animated anthology film that will please kids and adults alike

This charming French animated comedy is the second feature from Benjamin Renner, whose previous film was 2012's César-winning, Oscar-nominated Ernest & Celestine – about the unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse. Sharing the director's chair this time round is supervising animator Patrick Imbert, while it's based on Renner's own best-selling comic book. Framed as a stage production mounted by a group of farmyard animals, the film is divided into three separate stories.

In the first, 'Baby Delivery', a lazy stork tricks a duck, a rabbit and an exasperated pig into delivering a human baby halfway across France. In 'The Big Bad Fox', a fox steals some eggs, intending to hatch them, fatten up the chicks and eat them, only to find that they see him as their mother. And in 'The Perfect Christmas', the animals mistakenly believe they've killed Father Christmas, so set out to replace him as best they can.

As with Renner's previous feature, the hand-drawn, 2D animation is utterly beguiling, conveying the pleasingly nostalgic feel of a beloved children's book. It's also beautifully paced, with the second story in particular ramping up the levels of absurdity into a deliriously entertaining farmyard farce.

Co-scripted by Renner and Jean Regnaud, the film is chock-full of humour for both adults and children: encompassing inspired visual gags (like an aeroplane doing a mid-flight three-point turn) and very funny lines, as well as some hilariously unexpected plot developments that play on character expectations. Similarly, the animals are extremely likeable and the stories achieve a perfect blend of laughs and emotion, without overegging the sentimentality. The package is rounded off with a jaunty score from Robert Marcel Lepage that chimes brilliantly with the animals-doing-amateur-dramatics conceit.

Sadly, only the English dub of the film (with solid voice-work from the likes of Bill Bailey, Matthew Goode and Celia Imrie) is getting a UK theatrical airing. Here's hoping the DVD release will include both versions.

Selected release from Fri 3 Aug.

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales…

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • France / Belgium
  • 1h 23min
  • U
  • Directed by: Patrick Imbert, Benjamin Renner
  • Cast: Kamel Abdessadok, Jules Bienvenu, Guillaume Bouchède

Whoever thinks that the countryside is calm and peaceful is mistaken. In it we find especially agitated animals: a Fox that thinks it's a chicken; a Rabbit that acts like a stork; and a Duck who wants to replace Father Christmas. Its charming, hand-drawn 2D animation is utterly beguiling and will please both children and…