Sunday, November 29, 2009


Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox
4.5 stars
(out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund

The way I see it, there are two kinds of movie buffs: those who swoon over the exceedingly ironic whimsy of American auteur Wes Anderson, and those who can barely stomach it. Personally, I've long considered myself a card-carrying member of the latter party, finding the bone-dry, wink-wink humor and cartoonish, pseudo-hipster sensibilities of films like “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” not only inaccessible, but borderline intolerable. The truly fantastic “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Anderson's stop-motion rendering of Roald Dahl's 1970 children's book, is a delightful movie that can finally unite us all in giddy, delirious harmony.

At last, Anderson has channeled his unique gifts into a project that is actually animated, rather than trying to overly animate a live-action landscape (and I'm not just referring to the literally animated flourishes that cluttered the frames of “The Life Aquatic”). At last, Anderson has found a way to retain the familiar aura that runs through all his films while welcoming everyone, not just a select few, to be in on the joke and the fun. He's created a world that is detailed and exciting, colorful and funny, and he's populated it with memorable characters who are zany and quirky, yet not to the extent they feel disingenuous. To enliven those characters, he's assembled an enviable bevy of gifted voice actors who never talk down to the audience. At last, Anderson has made a movie not to be tolerated, but adored.

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