Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Even the little fox puppets

There's something dreamlike about Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox. Not Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox. That was a book. This doesn't have a lot to do with that. It feels like a Wes Anderson film, with all the calmly funny dialogue and grown up jokes of his other films. But the animation sits above all that. A lot of fiddling about went into making the stop-motion animation that is at first jarring but gradually wonderful. There's sort of a visual purity to it. Not cluttered or busy. Just simple and colourful. Critters scamper around on little stages in a surreal manner, hardly ever raising their voices. It's got a learned, sophisticated feel to it.

And it's not for children. It seems to be a story about grown-ups having a mid-life crisis. These are grown-ups saying grown-up things in a grown-up way. Even the little foxes are very ponderous. There's no 'action' action and most of the jokes aren't 'funny' funny (I know what I mean). It is funny, but on the underneath. It's often not what they're saying, but how they're saying it and the quality of the animation that gets a laugh. It's funny on the underneath. Most ten year olds would be bemused. There's a whole joke about the latin names of the animals, ending with Mr Fox saying that 'there weren't any possums in ancient Rome'. I would have been confused.

A children's film for grown-ups then. If it had been released fifteen years ago I might be talking about it in a nostalgic way, like it was one of the best films of my childhood. But it's quite new, and I'm twenty one, so it's just quite good.

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