Fantastic Mr. Fox is Far From Fantastic

I’m not a big awards person. I think it’s little self-masturbatory, but I can see why people get caught up in the excitement. Me, personally? I doubt I’ll even watch the awards show itself, but there’s still a hint of curiosity. I’ve been trying to make it through all of the movies (God knows it’s hard) so this is more for those looking forward to the Oscars this Sunday night.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is Wes Anderson’s attempt at stop-motion animation. Anderson has always been regarded as a highly visual director and this film is no different. The tones are rich and very Autumnal. Truth be told, it was a very soothing movie to watch based mainly on the color palette. However, the color palette alone can not save a movie. The progression of the stop-motion is supposedly intentionally fractured as an artistic choice. The problem with this is, I went to art school. I took film classes where I did the exact same thing to create a jarring effect and I will ask of Mr. Anderson the same question I was asked when I made this “artistic choice” in school. Why? Why is that important to the story or to the characters. I have a feeling (although I can’t say for sure) Mr. Anderson might not have an answer. However, as time goes on, the jagged effect wears off. I just found myself not really being bothered by it or even thinking about it at all, but it did take some time.

Another aspect of the movie that i couldn’t entirely get behind, although I’m sure it’s the same reason many people went to see it, is the casting. Meryl Streep does have a beautiful voice and it’s able to convey sympathy and frustration. True, this is expected of any voice actors or actresses, but as is typical of most of Meryl Streep’s work, there’s a certain indescribable elegance to it. Jason Schwartzman is also wonderful as the son of the Fox family. The voice articulates so much of the comedy that makes the film worth watching. I’ve always been a Schwartzman fan, but I’d never thought of him as a voice actor. I’m glad he was cast though and I hope he does more voice acting in the future. George Clooney however, left me flat. His voice has that certain charisma to it, but it’s not enough to carry the character of Mr. Fox. It wouldn’t be so bad if George Clooney wasn’t in just about every scene. I’m not sure what was seen in him that secured him the part, but voice acting is not his talent. He’s not all bad, but it’s just so recognizably “George Clooney” that it’s difficult to leave it behind and focus on the character.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is alright, but it’s far from fantastic. The story is a difficult one to make visually interesting, so it’s through no fault of Wes Anderson’s, but this adaptation left something to be desired. To be put simply, it’s not the book. This is an instance of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, but not the most… well, flattering. For what it’s worth, it’s an enjoyable piece and if you have a chance, give it a rent, but it’s not an absolute must-see before the Oscars this Sunday. Besides, with the success of Up, not many other animated films stand much of a chance.

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