the colonial theatre marquee

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Directed by Wes Anderson. US. 2009. PG. 87 minutes. Fox. Digital.
Sponsored by Phoenixville First
Sat., November 28, 2015
November 28, 2015
2:00 pm

“Mr. and Mrs. Fox live an idyllic home life with their son Ash and visiting young nephew Kristopherson. But after 12 years, the bucolic existence proves too much for Mr. Foxs wild animal instincts. Soon he slips back into his old ways as a sneaky chicken thief and in doing so, endangers not only his beloved family, but the whole animal community. Trapped underground and with not enough food to go around, the animals band together to fight against the evil Farmers – Boggis, Bunce and Bean – who are determined to capture the audacious, fantastic Mr. Fox at any cost.

Is this really a family film? No more or less so than The Incredibles, which covered similar psychic turf in a more exuberant, less eccentric fashion. Actually, Fantastic Mr. Fox rescues the very phrase family film from an industrial entertainment complex that has warped it beyond all recognition. Anderson deals with generational dynamics – a dad who needs to be forever young, a son looking for the best way to grow up – in a way everyone can access, from kids to grandparents. The movie isnt funny ha-ha but funny-beguiling, and I think most children will be puzzled and fascinated with it, the way you can be taken with something weird but true.

Which is to say that Andersons whimsies work better in this context – with more wit and playful warmth – than in his ostensibly grown-up movies. Its the small, funky details of Mr. Fox that stick with you: The way Kylie the Possum (Wally Wolodarsky) has eyes that turn into spiral buttons whenever he spaces out, the mole that plays Art Tatum piano riffs, the single word cuss that the animals use as an all-purpose expletive, or the way these civilized beasts sit down to meals and rip into them like temporary carnivores.

Theres the moral, if youre looking for one. Why do we do the stupid things we do? Because were wild animals pretending to be grown-ups and grown-ups betrayed by our wildness. (I used to steal birds, but now Im a newspaperman, sighs Mr. Fox, and, brother, I hear you.) This is a little further up the evolutionary and maturity ladder than, say, a Wild Thing, but still not far enough to keep us out of trouble. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a fairy tale for adults thats gracious enough to let everyone play along.” (Ty Burr, The Boston Globe)