George Clooney as Mr. Fox (voice)
Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox (voice)
Jason Schwartzman as Ash (voice)
Bill Murray as Badger (voice)
Wallace Wolodarsky as Kylie (voice)
Eric Chase Anderson as Kristofferson Silverfox (voice)
Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean (voice)
Willem Dafoe as Rat (voice)
Owen Wilson as Coach Skip (voice)
Jarvis Cocker as Petey (voice)
Wes Anderson as Weasel (voice)
Karen Duffy as Linda Otter (voice)
Robin Hurlstone as Walter Boggis (voice)
Hugo Guinness as Nathan Bunce (voice)
Helen McCrory as Mrs. Bean (voice)
From Script to Screen
Still Life (Puppet Animation)
A Beginner’s Guide to Whack-Bat
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 87 Minutes
The following is the official description of the film:
“George Clooney and Meryl Streep lend their voices to this hilarious and heartwarming animated adventure from visionary director Wes Anderson. Mr. and Mrs. Fox (Clooney and Streep) live a happy home life with their eccentric son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and visiting nephew Kristofferson. That is until Mr. Fox slips into his sneaky, old ways and plots the greatest chicken heist the animal world has ever seen. Based on the beloved, best-selling book by Roald Dahl (‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’), ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ is family fun at its finest.”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is rated PG for action, smoking and slang humor.
Being a fan of Wes Anderson’s quirky comedies, I was curious to see what kind of children’s film he could deliver. I wasn’t disappointed, and neither were my kids. A big part of what makes this work is the improvisational feel of the dialogue. Whether it’s Bill Murray and George Clooney fighting it out in an office or Jason Schwartzman as Ash getting jealous of Kristofferson and harassing him, all those hilarious scenes seem to flow naturally and they offer laughs for both the kids and adults. There’s also a funny running gag where the characters use the term ‘cuss’ instead of actual profanities. It comes out of nowhere and gets used again and again.
The animation also generates a lot of laughs from the visuals alone. For example, we see Ash create a burglar mask with a tube sock and walk around wearing a cape. We see a hapless guard dog eat a tranquilizer then pass out on the ground comically. We see the characters dig like mad to escape their pursuers. It’s all a case of the animators living up to their side of the bargain in generating laughs. And while some people may have a hard time getting used to the jerky stop-motion animation, I felt it perfectly added to the quirky feel of the story.
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is required viewing for anyone that’s a fan of animation or quirky comedies. Better yet, it’s a family film that actually entertains the entire family.
The bonus features on this DVD are light, but they cover a lot of what you’re interested in. “From Script to Screen” talks about the adaptation of Dahl’s book, how Wes Anderson guided the animators, and more. We also see Bill Murray visiting the set where the animation was filmed. “Still Life (Puppet Animation)” talks about the animation process. I was amazed to hear how the relative humidity and weather could affect what the set looked like from one day to the next. They also talk about how the levels of the fluid in the cider bottles could change over time and affect the animation. Anyone interested in the technical side of animation will be interested in this. “A Beginner’s Guide to Whack-Bat” is a brief funny video showing the rules to the silly game in the movie. I wish they had a commentary or interviews with the cast, but none of that is included here.