Fantastic Mr. Fox (4 stars)

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Inspired take on the Dahl classic

Wes Anderson’s animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much loved book is no straightforward children’s film. Wee ones might enjoy it to a degree, but they won’t get much of the typically arch humour and wanton eccentricities the filmmaker once again indulges in. Working with his regular co-screenwriter Noah Bambauch, Anderson has broadened Dahl’s short tale, and in doing so pulled off the neat trick of retaining the spirit while recasting it with his own idiosyncratic sensibility.

Thus, the pater familias of the title (voiced by George Clooney) is an incorrigible and irresponsible husband and father (of Meryl Streep’s mum and Jason Schwartzman’s son) cast from the same mould as Gene Hackman’s Royal Tenenbaum. Mr Fox’s refusal to settle down into a quiet domestic life leads him back to his old career as a chicken thief, which in turn gets him into trouble with local farmer Bean (Michael Gambon). The war of wills and wiles that ensues drags the whole animal community into the fray, including Mr Fox’s lawyer, Badger (Bill Murray), and his nephew, Kristofferson (Eric Anderson, brother of Wes).

Anderson’s decision to use old school stop-motion animation, with its puppets painstakingly animated frame-by-film-frame, is an inspired one. He’s made a virtue of the imperfections of the technique and this chimes beautifully with Dahl’s delightfully scraggy tale.

(PG) 88min. General release from Fri 23 Oct.

Fantastic Mr. Fox trailer

Fantastic Mr Fox

  • 4 stars
  • 2009
  • US
  • 1h 28min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Wes Anderson
  • Cast: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray

Anderson's inspired choice of stop-motion animation pays off in this beautiful and idiosyncratic adaptation of the well-loved children's tale. While kids may enjoy it, Anderson's typically arch humour is aimed more at their parents, who will also be impressed by the star-studded voice cast – Bill Murray as a badger lawyer…