Blu-ray Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

This past weekend I spent some time out of town with my father watching the NCAA Tournament. My father is one of those people that has ESPNHD burned into his television he watches the channel so much and you would practically have to tie him down to get him to watch a movie. However, while the games were playing I would watch the special features on Fantastic Mr. Fox during halftime to get some work done at the same time. While he first looked at it with one eyebrow raised it wasn’t long before he was asking about what we were looking at.

I explained the process of making a stop-motion animated film and he was mildly intrigued and I would even say bewildered at the idea of taking one picture at a time, 24 for each second, and then piecing them all together for a feature length film. Then the “Making Fantastic Mr. Fox” featurette explained a scene that would represent 18 seconds of screen time, took 9 days to shoot and included 12 different poses per second depending on the speed of the action. He was hooked. After the game, we watched the movie and the fact my father watched what essentially boils down to an 87-minute animated puppet movie only reinforces how great this film is in my mind.

Based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book, Fantastic Mr. Fox was looked at by co-writer and director Wes Anderson as part of a trilogy of stories, simply two of the stories had yet to be told. He took Dahl’s story and added bits and pieces here and there, including portions of Dahl’s life to the point he recreated much of Dahl’s furniture and his office for the film, upon his wife’s go ahead of course. She glowlingly approves of the film as well by the way. All of this resulted in my favorite animated film of 2009 and I have watched it three times since receiving it only a few days ago and expect I will never tire of what amounts to a more adult animated effort and one I am truly thankful to now own.

Of course, there is a downside to this Blu-ray release. While the package comes equipped with the DVD and a Digital Copy, the special features leave a lot to be desired. I was honestly hoping this film would find itself among the Criterion Collection as they have pretty much dedicated themselves to releasing all of Anderson’s work outside of recently skipping The Darjeeling Limited, and I am not sure if there is a single animated film among their collection. That said, this would have made a great addition and would have hopefully given us some features that weren’t, for the most part, immediately available online.

The previously mentioned making-of documentary runs 44:48 and is broken up into six parts and, strangely enough, it doesn’t even include everything available at While it’s still an excellent feature, much of which following Bill Murray (the voice of Badger) as he explores and learns about the making of the film himself, it just doesn’t entirely satisfy considering it is the main feature on the disc. All that’s left after this is a silly little “Beginner’s Guide to Whack-Bat” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World of Roald Dahl” which is a small featurette discussing how Anderson went to the Dahl estate to write the screenplay and found inspiration to the point much of Dahl’s life found its way into the film. To be precise, the featurettes are good, but they feel limiting as a commentary track with Anderson, Murray and Jason Schwartzman at the very least would have been excellent. Had they been able to convince George Clooney to join them as well as Willem Dafoe… well, that would have made this an undisputed must own.

The picture is superb and the audio, with the exemplary score by Alexandre Desplat, is nearly perfect. Commentary or not, this is a must own on Blu-ray and even if you are yet to adopt the format I would say pick it up on Blu anyway as it comes with the DVD edition as well. The price of Blu-ray players is dropping daily and sooner or later you will likely own one and you won’t have to pick it up a second time.

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