Wes Anderson — the quirky hipster behind “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” — making an animated movie? It sounds crazy, but it makes perfect sense. All of Anderson’s movies are — and I mean this as a compliment — live-action cartoons.
Wes Anderson — the quirky hipster behind “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” — making an animated movie?
It sounds crazy, but it makes perfect sense. All of Anderson’s movies are — and I mean this as a compliment — live-action cartoons. They’re cast, designed, filmed and lit for maximum visual effect, and Anderson clearly has a strong vision for every single frame. By making a movie with stop-motion animals, he’s refining his vision — and it all works beautifully.
In fact, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. Trust me, with a hi-def set and a Blu-ray player, “Fox” doesn’t just pop off the screen, it explodes. The oranges, browns and blues create a world you feel like you could step right into, and the hilariously, wonderfully, obsessively detailed visions Anderson and his crew create make you want to step into it. You can see every strand of fur on Fox’s face, but that’s just the start. You can see everything from Mrs. Fox’s stormy paintings to the library sticker on the book that serves as the film’s title image.
Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) is dealing with a midlife crisis, his wife (Meryl Streep) needs him to grow up a bit, and their son (Jason Schwartzman) has an inferiority complex, worrying he doesn’t measure up to his more with-it cousin. The characters resolve their issues in a way that’s both surprising and emotionally fulfilling. As the credits rolled and the music played, I had a huge smile on my face, and I can’t imagine any movie fan not feeling the same way.
A word to parents: Though the movie features grown-up voices, it is by a normally R-rated director and earned a PG rating for “action, smoking and slang humor” (whatever that means). I highly recommend watching “Fantastic Mr. Fox” with your kids. It is, after all, based on a children’s book, and the film’s bright colors, oddball action and funny characters should keep the young ’uns entertained.
Look at it this way: “Fantastic Mr. Fox” made a fraction of what 2009’s other animated mammal movie, “Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” earned at the box office, but there’s only one of these you want to watch — and only one your kids will thank you for introducing them to years later.
Will Pfeifer writes about DVDs for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-987-1244. Read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/movie man/.
FROM THE VAULT: Watch more classics that use stop-motion
“King Kong” (1933) That big ape was only about 18 inches tall in most of his scenes, and it was Willis O’Brien and his crew who brought him to life. The special edition “Kong” DVD includes a feature where Peter Jackson and his team recreate a lost scene using 1933 techniques.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) Tim Burton’s name was all over this imaginative holiday release, but director Henry Selick is the guy who actually made Jack Skellington and his friends move.
“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004) Selick also is the man who contributed the fanciful sea creatures to this Wes Anderson movie. And it’s where Anderson caught the animation bug that led to “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
FIRE AT WILL: Go ahead! Ask me!
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Make room in your collection
Some DVDs out Tuesday
“Abbott & Costello Show: Complete Series”: Trivia note: Jerry Seinfeld cited this TV series as a major influence on his own sitcom, “Seinfeld.”
“Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel”: Worst title of the week? Definitely. Worst movie of the week? Probably.
“The Baader Meinhof Complex”: If you think the baby boomers rebelled, imagine what the children of the Germans did to get back at their parents.
“An Education”: This tale of a young woman and an older man was nominated for a few Oscars. Now you can finally see it.
“Joe Rogan: Talking Monkeys In Space”: Congratulations, Joe! You earn the prize for strangest title of the week.
“The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Season One”: A show this complex and subtle demands repeat viewings.
“Sherlock Holmes”: This movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law looked like a sure hit. Then a little film called “Avatar” opened.
Usher, “Raymond v. Raymond”: Despite the title, this isn’t the soundtrack to an “Everybody Loves Raymond” reunion special.
Barenaked Ladies, “All In Good Time”: The Ladies (who are, of course, all guys) get a little more serious with this album, their first without co-vocalist Steve Page.
Amy Grant, “Somewhere Down The Road”: Attention Amy Grant fans — this disc includes new recordings, unreleased tracks, concert performances and new versions of old favorites.
Gretchen Wilson, “I Got Your Country Right Here”: Gretchen, please. A little decorum would be nice.
Lady Gaga, “Telephone: The Remixes”: She’s superpopular but doesn’t have a new disc. How about some remixes to tide the fans over?
Robin Williams, “Weapons Of Self Destruction”: I remember hearing Robin’s first album, “Reality — What a Concept” when I was a kid and realizing that Mork really liked drug humor.
Sources: DVDtalk.com; tophitsonline.com