Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Squab Farm Squibs

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
directed by Wes Anderson
rating: 3 out of 5 cravats
seen on the screen at AMC Waterfront

Wes Anderson still clings so tightly to the reputation he won with Rushmore that he's choked the life out of every movie since; he's afraid to take the wrong step, and contrary to what you might have heard, Fantastic Mr. Fox is the same old bullshit. A stop-motion film seems like a new direction, but it isn't. As long as Jason Schwartzman and Noah Baumbach are star and co-writer, as long as the movie is about fathers and sons, Anderson isn't going to make his Pineapple Express. He doesn't have it in him.

But what a difference an ending can make. There was a moment, just before the credits, when I realized that Fantastic Mr. Fox was about to conclude, and it couldn't be where the book - which, admittedly, I haven't read - ended, because, from Dahl's perspective, the story wasn't over. The farmers have barely begun to fight; the supermarket can't feed the animals forever. Nothing's resolved, Fox hasn't changed, but we're sending him off at one of his very best moments, as the vulpes vulpes he'd like to be. I guess that sounds exactly like every movie that's preceded it, but at least Anderson finally lets it play out at a full 24 frames per second.

Incidentally, I agree with this sentiment, I loved the animation, and I think those lovely trains speeding by in the distance at night owe more than a little to Hayao Miyazaki. That's how I arrived at 3.