Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" - REVIEW

The problem with having an adjective like "fantastic" in a movie title is obvious; it opens up a easy way for critics to make snarky comments about the film being ineptly named, yada yada yada. Unfortunately, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson's stop motion adaptation of the Roald Dahl book, though not terrible or even bad, is far from fantastic. While it's refreshing to see Anderson do something new, the film as a whole, though well made, is hard to be enthusiastic about. The story is fine, the voice talent superb, but it all feels so hollow. Too many characters with too many quirks weigh the story down and make for an irritating number of non-sequiturs that A) go nowhere and B) aren't terribly funny, or even amusing. Some of it works in a surreal sort of way, but as it goes on, the story starts to crack at the seams, and even an hour and 25 minutes starts to feel too long. Anderson apparently directed the film "from a distance," not actually being present for significant portions of the set-up or even filming of shots (to what degree I don't know) and it shows. The film has a strange disconnected feel to it, with odd changes in tone. The quirks that are meant to provide some form of laughter either fall flat or are too low-key to register, and since most of this comes from dialogue, it makes the characters hard to really feel for. But perhaps the moment that best sums up Anderson's film is the "wolf encounter" scene, which comes right the hell out of nowhere, serves no point despite being well made, well shot, and charmingly scored, and then is never mentioned again or given a moment to have any sort of impact (aka: a big lipped alligator moment). For all its little quirks, some of them generally amusing, there's too little that works for me to recommend it with genuine enthusiasm. You can rent it.

Grade: B-/C+

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