I'm no Gene Shalit, but when it comes to kids' movies – I'm something of an expert. Since taking our oldest daughter to see Monsters, Inc. when she was a year old, the movies have been an important part of our family life. Mostly we watch them at home once we've had a chance to know more about them, but every month or two we go as a family to the theater. Most kids' movies are disappointing (Where the Wild Things Are) or try too hard to please everyone (Up!), so when we hit on one that resonates with all of us, it's special.
Fantastic Mr. Fox is special. Very special. In fact, it's the best movie I've seen this year – in the theaters or on DVD. Three things:
1) No, we haven't read Roald Dahl's book. But will now.
2) Wes Anderson is a really, really good director.
3) This is George Clooney's best role ever.
I'm not going to bore you with a synopsis, just let me say Fox is unlike anything you've ever seen. Yes, you're thrown into a world of woodland creatures who plot against humans (and vice versa) and yes, it's (amazing) stop-motion, but any comparison to typical kid flicks stops there. One thing that occurred to me early on in this movie was that it was unusually subdued. Quiet, even. None of the characters scream and yell, there are no alien sound effects, no digital 3D – just a solid story, beautiful art direction and amazing acting. The score's not too shabby either.
Will children like it? Our daughters did. They're 6 and 8 and sat mesmerized the entire time. Then again, our kids can entertain themselves for hours with some chalk and a slab of concrete. But when this movie was over, I asked if they liked it and there was no hesitation in their answer. They liked it. A lot. Not so much with Where the Wild Things Are, or Up! when the movie was pretty much forgotten by the time we got to our car.
If you like innovative thinking, solid storyline, great acting and directing – go see Fantastic Mr. Fox. And you'll leave with a new trademark. And a new appreciation for cussing.
A recurring theme in Fox was the fact that Mr. Fox does certain things because he's a "wild animal." Which made me think of this quote: "Men have forgotten this truth," said The Fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince