Maybe!

I finally saw it over the long holiday weekend, and boy did I love it! After all of the weird press about what a nightmare Wes Anderson was during the filming process–the general idea being that he mostly directed the movie from his Paris apartment by SEXTing the animators in England–and also that New Yorker article that was so fawning it kind of made you want to puke (the inevitable pukelash) for how much Richard Brody wants to be Wes Anderson’s boyfriend and kiss him on his recherche mouth, it turned out that nevertheless this movie is so so good. Just a joy to watch from beginning to end.

Here are some reasons that it might be the best movie of the whole year:

For one thing, it was visually delightful! For all of the efforts made this year to bring the charm and joy (and also terror, for some reason) of being a child to the movies (Where the Wild Things Are, Coraline, etc) this one seems to me to be the one that actually succeeds. It feels like a diorama, or a particularly fevered Sunday afternoon art project on the living room rug. Obviously, that is not the case. Very talented, professional adults made this movie! But it is exactly that blend between hand-crafted borderline-amateurishness and impeccable high-art that makes it so enjoyable to look at.

Then there is the story. It is simple and for children, but it also is fun, and layered, and even has some excitement in it! There are actual stakes involved! Plus the characters are complicated and not always lovable, but they are doing their best, just like how human beings are and do. Children yearn for their parents’ love, parents yearn for their youthful vigor, and there is lots of dancing. Dancing is great! The humor is gentle and smart and sophisticated. It is a movie with its heart carefully rendered in scale and then sewn with golden thread to its corduroy sleeve.

But probably the thing that makes the movie so great are all of the slight touches, and this is a movie built out of slight touches. Wes Anderson’s fussy and sometimes overly-precious style works perfectly in a movie whose painstaking and time-consuming physical process demands that things be fussy and precious. So Fantastic Mr. Fox listens to his tiny walkman, and Jason Schwartzman makes his own bandit hat out of a sweat sock when no one will give him a real bandit hat, and I already mentioned the dancing, but there’s lots of dancing, and signature moves, and a couple of moving toasts. This movie has got it all!

I know that Fantastic Mr. Fox has been out for a little while now, but I’m sure some people have not seen it who should totally go see it, and I have not read very much about how great it is. Why aren’t more people talking about this? You guys are being weird about Fantastic Mr. Fox. Go see it! Maybe you will hate it, but probably not. Not if you know what you are talking about. And if you haven’t voted yet, now’s your chance!

Team Fantastic Mr. Fox!

Comments (73)
  1. I’m seeing this tomorrow! I can’t wait! Hurrah!

  2. I saw it this weekend, and boy, did I not like it. At all. Diff’rent strokes 4 diff’rent folks!

    • There is room enough for all of us! Why didn’t you like it?

      • Well, in general I am not a Wes Anderson fan (although I did like Rushmore), and this was no exception. His humor and pacing have never appealed to me. I think his movies are very well made, and I thought this one was especially beautiful, but his movies are for people who aren’t me, I guess!

      • I also thought the movie wasn’t great. Yes, it was visually appealing, and there were some funny signature Wes Anderson quirks, but what I felt the movie ultimately lacked was a sense of wonder. I obviously don’t demand this from all movies, but to me, great animated movies have a strong sense of wonder, and I really felt it was lacking here.

  3. I just figured out what I’m going to do for my date on Thursday. Thanks, Gabe!

  4. It was really fantastic and any other year I would say it would probably be the best animated movie by a mile, but this year Up came out, although Fantastic Mr. Fox wins the award for animated movie that made smoking seem like the coolest (which it is).

  5. I’ll run out now and see it – and I’m sure my run will fade to slo-mo as a pre-Exile Rolling Stones song kicks in then when I reach the theater everyone who’s ever been significant to my life will be in the theater with me and we’ll all fit into frame.

  6. “Just a joy to watch from beginning to end. ”

    Gabe = My Mother

  7. This and “Up” are my two favorites of the year.

    Dear Mr. Hollywood,

    Please make more great, uplifting animation in our recessioning, terror-filled world, please!

  8. Gabe, I loved it too! Just thinking about the dancing makes me happy. I was disappointed by Where the Wild Things Are (kids apparently all want to be dissected in a careful and obvious psychological portrait! like a pre-teen The Cell!) and so I was glad at least one of these adults-trying-out-kids-stuff could actually appeal to both kids and adults. Because it is good.

  9. I have mixed feelings about it. I’m not really an huge Anderson fan (loved Rushmore and Tenenbaums, but haven’t been feeling it since). It sort of continued the trend of his movies being enjoyable but inconsequential to me. It was an improvement over Darjeeling to me, at least. VAGUE SPOILERS But the FMF version of Zissou’s encounter with the shark was kind of lame. END VAGUE SPOILERS

    Also, many close up of faces in a stop action movie was a strange choice to me.

  10. Fantastic Mr. Rape-Rape Pedophilia Petition Signatory

  11. i just wanted to point out that this movie has been out for a little while but only in limited release, this last weekend was the big mainstream opening of the movie. so maybe that’s why nobody is talking about it yet? with that said, i liked the movie.. the stop motion animation and the visuals all around were incredible but on the other had it was very wes anderson-y and i think that the movie didn’t really come across as a film that a kid could get into. i took my niece and nephew and when i asked them what they thought when they came out of the theater it was a pretty lukewarm response.

  12. The movie was just in select cities until last weekend. So that’s maybe why more people weren’t talking about it. But I saw it and really liked it too. Not quite as much as Gabe it seems like though. My favorite part was with Owen Wilson the gym teacher and the insane game they played. It reminded me of Calvin Ball mixed with Cricket. Also this movie was so much more enjoyable and worthwhile then Where the Wild Things Are, another movie made by hipster adults.

  13. Just saw Bunny and the Bull. I don’t even know if it has an American distributor but if it has – Oh, such touches, you should absolutely see it. Relevance.

  14. Yes, yes, yes it is. It’s thrilling to see Anderson make a movie that makes me remember why I loved Rushmore and the Royal Tenenbaums: characters we care about, fun and quirky plot, interesting directing choices that separate these three movies from the stink-bombs that are Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited. A couple years ago there was a piece about Anderson called “Drowning in Quirk” which said he had gotten too wrapped up in being “Wes Anderson” and had drifted from making stories that matter. It looks like he’s returned to form, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Go see Fantastic Mr. Fox, everyone!

  15. I loved it. But then i am an Anderson fan (both of them for that matter). It’s just really beautiful and clever. They use the lo-fi look for great comedy moments, like when the camera pulls back and you see them skitter across the farm.

  16. It was pretty good (especially the visuals), but fairly dripping with Wes. I think we’ve seen just about all that he’s capable of, and hope he tries to surprise us the next time he makes a movie, rather than vamping on “Rushmore” for the umpteenth time.

  17. Seeing this tomorrow, which can’t come fast enough. But, holy crap — UP, Coraline, Mary and Max (check it out on IFC on demand, it’s good!), Ponyo — many of the best movies this year were animated… I can’t decide if this is awesome for animation or sad for live action.

    • Oh, I forgot about Ponyo, which I totally adored (and told my mom it was clearly a documentary about how awesome redheaded girls are.) I wonder when that’s coming out on DVD.

  18. I basically had the same problem with this as I did with Darjeeling, which is that I had no emotional connection with any of the characters because they were all so shrouded in their smug, snappy dialogue that Anderson is obsessed with. Throughout the movie I laughed a lot and enjoyed myself, but the moments that were meant to be emotionally-charged just felt utterly flat and removed to me. I don’t think those moments were earned.

    I think it fell short where Where The Wild Things Are succeeded, personally.

  19. this movie was so cussing good

  20. I absolutely loved it. But the 10 and 9 year olds I saw it with hated it. When we walked out of the theater they said “what was so funny? why were people laughing?” I couldnt explain it.

    • a kid behind me in the cinema asked his mom what “cuss” meant every time it was mentioned… to which she finally replied, “shut up! i am trying to enjoy this children’s movie!!”

  21. I saw a preview with Wes and Jason (yes they are my new best friend) moderated by Jim Jarmusch, and in true Wes Anderson-style the majority of the audience questions were asked by the most precocious New York boys aged 10-12.

    FYI, they have the sets and puppets for this movie in the display windows of Bergdorf Goodman on fifth ave. hilariously perfect commercial tie in… you’ll know when you see.

  22. YES/MAYBE! I think that it is the movie that I have enjoyed the most this year, by far. And maybe people haven’t been singing its praises that much since it only made it beyond select cities on Thanksgiving. It was just so utterly delightful, fun to watch, and filled with tiny moments of extreme hilarity. Upon leaving, everyone in our movie-going group felt that we could happily watch it on a continuous loop for a few days and still derive pleasure from it.

    BUT, I am a huge Wes Anderson fan and don’t really understand when people use “dripping with Wes” as a criticism. STILL, this one is more reminiscent of Bottle Rocket and Rushmore than his other more recent pictures.

    I hope that it creams sappy old Up at the awards ceremonies. The stop-motion animation is miraculous and charming.

  23. Yeah, as a Wes Anderson fan, I don’t see why it being a very stylistically Wes Anderson movie is a bad thing. When I was telling my friends to see it, I told them that it was unmistakably a Wes Anderson movie as a positive thing rather than a negative thing (granted, he’s a fan of Wes’ movies as well). Overall, I thought it was a really enjoyable movie to watch and it’s one of the few movies I’ve seen that I would willingly pay money to see again.

    Also my sarcasm radar is officially broken. Is this review of the movie supposed tongue in cheek at all? I really can’t tell on Videogum anymore.

  24. I loved this movie! And how it looked so different from any other stop-motion movies I’ve seen. It vaguely reminded me of Wind in the Willows, but I think that’s just because everything that involves animals wearing clothes reminds me of it.

    Wes Anderson Sidebar: I don’t know why everyone loves Rushmore so much. I really didn’t like it at all. Also, I liked the Life Aquatic and loved Darjeeling. Diff’rnt strokes, indeed.

  25. We took our 3 1/2 year old son to it over the weekend and we all loved it. Just a visually entertaining movie! Jason Schwarzman’s Ash was brilliant.

  26. I am torn. I want to see this movie, but I also thought we were throwing it in jail … http://videogum.com/archives/trailer/fantastic_mr_fox_continues_to_093071.html

  27. I was slightly underwhelmed by this film but I think it was good and that I need to see it again when I’m not in a pretty bad mood. It definitley had some really great moments “Trying to cuss with their heads”/”cluster cuss”

  28. This and The Hurt Locker are my favorites so far this year. I think Fox worked so much better than Darjeeling and other Anderson offerings because it wasn’t trying to take place in the “real world”. When his characters are humanoid and not animated, they’re just brats that need to be slapped in the face. When they’re animals, they’re funny.

  29. “I thought you were MY lab partner.”
    “I am.”
    “No you’re not. You’re just loyal.”

    Best dialogue since, well, Inglorious Basterds. Seriously though, I laughed so hard at that part.

  30. I second the idea that this is the best of the year. Anderson’s always had the best knack for diorama-style cinematography and preciously detailing his sets, and Fox let’s him do both in a meticulous and fun way. Everyone in the screening I saw really loved it, and the kids were laughing at different stuff than the adults – especially the blueberry gags and anything involving Kylie the Possum.

  31. I just saw it last night, and I totally agree. It was everything I wanted Wild Things to be that it wasn’t. Where does it rank in the Wes Anderson pantheon? I mean, definitely better than Darjeeling. I say it sits nicely alongside Rushmore and Tenenbaums. I also love Life Acquatic, but I know that’s more controversial.

  32. Am I the only one who had to look up “recherche”? Thanks for teaching me that delicious word, Gabe! I must try to use it casually in conversation some time this week.

    Also, Fantastic Mr. Fox was great, YAY!

    • I had to look it up too! We get smarter here at the Videogum University.

      recherché |r?? sh er? sh ?; r?? sh er? sh ?|
      adjective
      rare, exotic, or obscure : a few linguistic terms are perhaps a bit recherché for the average readership.
      ORIGIN French, literally ?carefully sought out,? past participle of rechercher.

  33. I loved all the twee perfect wonderful moments in here, like when they were playing a song from Disney’s Robin Hood (animated version with foxes) in the background of one scene.

    But then again, as a huge Roald Dahl-head and Wes Anderson-head and everything else about this movie-head, it would have taken a LOT for me not to like it.

  34. I’ve seen it twice, and I loved it both times. Anderson’s whole motif fits perfectly with animation, where, like you said Gabe, you can be fussy and whimsical, and it totally serves the picture. It feels instantly timeless, and not just because it’s based on a book I loved in the 2nd grade; it just has a really warm, loose, retro feel without going into kitsch territory. And unlike Where the Wild Things are, I can totally see kids loving this movie just as much as adults. A total WIN on all fronts. It’s between this and “A Serious Man” for me for film of the year.

    P.S. “That’s poor songwriting! You wrote a BAD SONG, Petey!”

    P.P.S. “Apple juice…apple juice flood…”

  35. Luv it. Love it even more than WTWTA and Coraline That’s a big thing for me since I super hate Wes. Somehow, those Daria Morgendorffer type dialogues, deadpan delivery are funny when animals are doing it. The lines “Maybe he is eating soap?” referring to the rabid beagle, may fall flat on live-action comedy but is so much funny when the crosseyed possum says it. Also the hipstery feel that clouds a Wes movie is nowhere here.
    And among the George Clooney trifecta (Up in the Air, …Goats, Mr. Fox), this one is my fave. I can’t seem to imagine anybody voicing the lead. That’s strange, because a few months ago I was dissing the Danny Oceanesque voice of Mr. Fox.
    At least I didn’t look like a pedophile watching this. There were more adults in the theatre than kids. The last time I felt embarrassed watching a kid’s movie was Up. I swear the usher was checking on me every few seconds. Ahh, the perils of an adult watching a kids movie…alone.
    Hurray for this hipster kiddie movie…4.65 out of stars… pitchfork style rating. (This is the last time I’m gonna use this stale joke about Pitchfork ratings, we can just retire this on 2010)

  36. A lot of folks are saying that Wes’s style works for stop motion animals where it didn’t work for people. I feel like all of Wes Anderson’s movies are all animated, just with giant human dummies. That’s why they dress the way they do, that’s why things are so aesthetically perfect and symmetrical. It’s just like a giant comic strip come to life with Bill Murray and the Wilson brothers.
    I loved this movie, but I’m all bummed out because I had forgotten about Wes signing the “Rape is OK if You’re Really Good at Something” petition. I really didn’t want to support anyone on that list.

  37. I just saw it yesterday with my nine year-old niece, and we both agreed that it was the best movie either one of us has seen all year. That’s kind of saying something, right?

  38. This movie is great. Like REALLY great but it’s not doing too well at the box office and it has a pretty wide release. KIDS THESE DAYS! right?

  39. Okay, I have not seen a single commercial for this film. Is it really that good?

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