Where were we? Last week you chose Fantastic Mr Fox so here we are.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX
First thing I notice my third time through from the ungodly hour of midnight till 1:27 AM, is that when it starts I'm instantly in a good mood. Is it the banjos? I don't know from musical instruments. Maybe it's the warm color palette or the feeling that I'm staring at an intricately designed diorama that I know people fussed over with their own hands (I love stop motion).
I credit this insta-mood booster with my giddy delight that the movie does all sorts of things that are traditional, classic or expected (the "one last job" plot, holding up a storybook cover to begin an animated film, reflecting Wes Anderson's favored eccentric gifted family stories) and they feel totally fresh to my heart even though my brain says "excessively familiar!"
The portrait of a Foxy marriage is really compelling stuff, despite it happening in very tiny increments with screwball fast banter
If what I think is happening, is happening. It better not be.Of course it helps that talented actors are doing the voice work for roles to which they're well suited. Meryl Streep is so familiar and beloved that she can perfectly sell warm but formidable domesticity (who wouldn't want to marry and be bossed around by her?) along with the backstory idea that that's not all there is to her... she's lived! The town tart line is especially funny given Meryl’s recent forays into risqué humor. To quote It’s Complicated “Turns out, I’m a bit of a slut.” For his part George Clooney harnesses his mega-charm for a role that's all about how far charm can take you but what price people and their loved ones sometimes pay for that gift. While I don’t normally condone the animated film’s reliance on “names” as voice cast, it’s actually helpful in this one case. Part of the humor and pathos here is that the animals are ultra aware of whether or not their behavior is fitting in with what's expected of their species and we in turn are ultra aware that they're standing in for humans. This adds an extra meta layer to the laughs that come from both the mandatory anthropomorphics of the genre and the regressions into pure animalistic behavior. The recurring joke of the foxes eating like wild animals is hilarious each and every time. Especially because it always happen so quickly and is ignored by the characters once it has. They even pick up the dishes after their feeding frenzy! I don’t even always do that and…. I am ...not....an animal.
The best thing about the movie might be how excessively quotable! it is. "I don't know what you're talking about but it sounds illegal" I sense that the more we watch this, the more we'll crib from its extensive pantry full of laugh lines. I'm 100% certain that movie buffs who are good at sounds and whistles, will adopt Fox's signature send-off as well.
If you try that blueberry trick on me, you could rob me blind. I’d fall for it every time. Mmmmm, blueberries. So yummy. So yummy.
If there's a problem with the movie, I'd venture to say that it's that the villains Boggis, Bunce and Bean aren't as compelling as the animals. And don’t you think that villains should always be angling for "best in show" honors. My mind flashes to Mrs. Tweedy in Chicken Run, another animals vs. humans stop-motion delight and she was just awesome. The BB&B intro is super, though. I love it when movies stop in their tracks to introduce characters in some theatrical way. And I mean that in both the literal and the style sense. Of course sometimes it's no good. That bit inInglourious Basterds when we learn about Sgt Hugo Stiglitz is just so inorganic... there's no parallels in the movie to make it feel like anything other than a whimsical indulgence that would be more fitting and more enjoyable as a DVD extra. But anyway. I do get a little bored towards the end because there’s just so much of BB&B trying again to kill the Foxes.
But then I forgive all the repetition when Mr Fox speaks French to the wolf.
That said, maybe I do prefer this to UP which didn’t hold up as well to return visits. You can say “told ya so” in the comments if you’re petty like that.
I've already told you how much I love the "Whackbat" sequence. The voicework in this movie is just perfect from top to bottom. Owen Wilson is always best within the Andersonverse. Everything about the scene clicks (and whistles): The incredibly fast complicated rules of the game punctuated with a prefaced "it's simple" and a "got it" finish, the elaborate diagram visualized once in blue print and once in “reality”, and that little bunny changing the scoreboard is love. The cherry on top of the scene is the painful punchline.
Coach Skip: He really is your father's nephew, isn't he?Little Ash = Jason Schwartzman’s best work ever? Discuss.
Ash: Not by blood.
I find it so hard to pick a favorite character (another sign of an extensively loveable movie) but if you trapped me in a hole and forced me to choose I might go with the dazed and timid possum, Wally Wolodarksy. Is he the one that says "apple juice…apple juice flood" because that kills me. Funniest moment of the movie?! It was late when that scene hit last night and I can't be blamed for mixing up the mangy animal puppets when drunk on apple cider and sleep deprivation.
Do you think Mr Fox is Fantastic? And if so how come and which parts? I feel I've barely scratched the surface. I didn't even get to the part about how Wes Anderson keeps proving to Hollywood that Willem Dafoe (as the rat) should be a comedy star and Hollywood keeps ignoring it... Or what I think about the camera work (brill) or the music.