Wes Anderson’s genius is a simple understanding that everyday, basic people are actually complex.
Anderson takes that simplicity and develops it into elaborate, anything but ordinary stories.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox sends Anderson in the new direction of interpreting someone else’s ordinary but extraordinary characters. He teams with his The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou partner Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) and does an ingenious version of Roald Dahl’s classic book.
Mr. Fox marries Mrs. Fox and goes straight. He stops stealing from farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean.
Fox is bored. He wants to do one more heist just for old-times sake. But Boggis, Bunce and Bean aren’t small farms anymore. They’re mega corporations with impressive, state-of-the-art security.
All the better.
Anderson’s philosophy of simplicity in the complex works its way into the animation. It is average claymation. Nothing fancy. Basic and boring if not for a script that drives home the humor.
George Clooney does Mr. Fox in marvelous monotone. He and co-stars Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem DaFoe, Brian Cox, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and others pile one flatly-delivered line on top of another with pitch and timing that would turn the heads of comedy word masters such as Abbot and Costello.
Mr. Fox’s adventure has repercussions that explain Dahl’s life lesson. Happiness, it seems, is found in being what you are. A fox can’t be anything but a fox.
And great writer/directors such as Anderson prove that you don’t need flash, sizzle, three-dimensions and big budgets to make a great animated feature.
It’s that simple.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated PG for some mature themes. It opened Wednesday, Nov. 25 at Regal’s Columbia Mall 8.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.