Fantastic Mr. Fox (film)
Fantastic Mr. Fox is a 2009 American stop-motion animated comedy film based on Roald Dahl's children's novel of the same name. The film is about a fox who steals food each night from three mean and wealthy farmers. They are fed up with Mr. Fox's theft and try to kill him, so they dig their way into the foxes' home, but the animals are able to outwit the farmers and live underground.
|Fantastic Mr. Fox|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wes Anderson|
|Based on||Fantastic Mr Fox
by Roald Dahl
|Music by||Alexandre Desplat|
|Edited by||Andrew Weisblum|
American Empirical Pictures
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$46.4 million|
The film was released in the autumn of 2009 and stars George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, and Owen Wilson. For director Wes Anderson, it was his first animated film and first film adaptation. Development on the project began in 2004 as collaboration between Anderson and Henry Selick (who worked with Anderson on the 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) under Revolution Studios. In 2007, Revolution folded, Selick left to direct Coraline, and work on the film moved to 20th Century Fox. Production began in London in 2007. It was released on November 13, 2009, and has a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
While raiding Berk's Squab Farm, Mr. Fox and his wife Felicity trigger a fox trap and become caged. Felicity reveals to Fox that she is pregnant and pleads with him to find a safer job if they escape. Fox reluctantly agrees.
Two years later, the Foxes and their sullen son Ash are living in a hole. Fox, now a newspaper columnist, moves the family into a better home in the base of a tree, ignoring the warnings of his lawyer Badger about how dangerous the area is for foxes. The tree is located very close to facilities run by three farmers: Walter Boggis, Nathan Bunce, and Franklin Bean.
Soon after the Foxes move in, Felicity's nephew Kristofferson Silverfox comes to live with them, as his father has fallen ill with double pneumonia. Ash finds this situation intolerable; his soft-spoken cousin is apparently superior to him at almost everything, and everyone–including Fox and Ash's female fox friend, Agnes–is charmed by Kristofferson at Ash's expense. Longing for his days as a thief, Fox and his friend Kylie Opossum steal produce and poultry from the three farms.
Angered, the farmers decide to kill Fox. They camp out near his home. When Fox emerges, the farmers open fire, but only shoot off his tail. They then attempt to dig Fox out. After demolishing the site of the tree, the farmers discover the Foxes have dug an escape tunnel. Reasoning that the Foxes will have to surface for food and water eventually, the farmers wait at the tunnel mouth. Underground, Felicity is upset that Fox returned to his thieving ways. The group later encounters Badger and many other local animal residents whose homes have also been destroyed by the farmers. As the animals begin fearing starvation, Fox leads them on a digging expedition to tunnel to the three farms, robbing them clean.
While the other animals feast, Ash and Kristofferson begin to reconcile after Kristofferson defends Ash from a bully. The cousins return to Franklin's farm, intending to reclaim Mr. Fox's tail. When they are interrupted by the arrival of Franklin's wife, Ash escapes, but Kristofferson is captured. Discovering that Fox has stolen their produce, the farmers flood the animals' tunnel network with cider.
The flood forces the animals into the sewers, trapping them. Fox learns that the farmers plan to use Kristofferson to lure him into an ambush and heads to the surface to surrender, which would mean his demise. The animals are confronted by Rat, Franklin's security guard, who attacks Ash and Felicity. Hearing his son's cries, Fox returns and fights Rat in an electrical room until Fox pushes him into an electric generator, electrocuting him. Before dying, Rat confesses Kristofferson's location. Fox asks the farmers for a meeting in town near the sewer hub where he would surrender in exchange for Kristofferson's freedom. The farmers set up an ambush, but Fox and the others anticipate it and launch a counterattack.
Fox, Ash, and Kylie slip into Franklin's farm. Ash frees Kristofferson and braves enemy fire to release a rabid beagle named Spitz to keep the farmers at bay. The animals become accustomed to living in the sewers with others considering moving in. Ash and Kristofferson settle their differences and become good friends. Fox leads his family, Kylie, and Agnes to a drain opening built into the floor of a supermarket owned by the three farmers.
Celebrating their new food source and the news that Felicity is pregnant again, the animals dance.
- George Clooney as Mr. Fox
- Meryl Streep as Felicity Fox
- Jason Schwartzman as Ash Fox
- Bill Murray as Clive Badger
- Willem Dafoe as Rat
- Owen Wilson as Coach Skip
- Wallace Wolodarsky as Kylie
- Eric Anderson as Kristofferson Silverfox
- Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean
- Jarvis Cocker as Petey
- Wes Anderson as Stan Weasel
- Robin Hurlstone as Walter Boggis
- Hugo Guinness as Nathan Bunce
- Helen McCrory as Mrs. Bean
- Juman Malouf as Agnes
Joe Roth and Revolution Studios bought the film rights to Fantastic Mr Fox in 2004. In 2006, Mark Mothersbaugh stated that he was working on the soundtrack. Wes Anderson signed on as director with Henry Selick, who worked with Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, as animation director. Anderson stated that he signed on because Roald Dahl was one of his heroes. Originally, Cate Blanchett was prearranged to voice Mrs. Fox, but she left the role for undisclosed reasons.
The story the novel covers would amount to the second act of the film. Anderson added new scenes to serve for the film's beginning and end. The new scenes precede Mr. Fox's plan to steal from the three farmers and follow the farmers' bulldozing of the hill, beginning with the flooding of the tunnel. Selick left the project, to work on the Neil Gaiman story Coraline in February 2006. He was replaced by Mark Gustafson. 20th Century Fox became the project's home in October 2006 after Revolution folded.
In September 2007, Anderson announced voice work would begin. The director chose to record the voices outside rather than in a studio: "we went out in a forest, [..] went in an attic, [and] went in a stable. We went underground for some things. There was a great spontaneity in the recordings because of that."
He said of the production design, "we want to use real trees and real sand, but it's all miniature." Great Missenden, where Roald Dahl lived, has a major influence on the film's look. The film mixes several forms of animation but consists primarily of stop motion. Animation took place in London, on Stage C at 3 Mills Studio and the puppets are created by Mackinnon & Saunders, with Anderson directing the crew, many of whom animated Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. Selick, who kept in contact with Anderson, said the director would act out scenes while in Paris and send them to the animators via iPhone.
|Fantastic Mr. Fox|
|Soundtrack album by various artists|
|Released||November 3, 2009|
|Wes Anderson film soundtrack chronology|
The score for the film was composed by Alexandre Desplat. Jarvis Cocker commented that he wrote "three, four" songs for the film, one of which was included on the soundtrack. The soundtrack also contains a selection of songs by The Beach Boys, The Bobby Fuller Four, Burl Ives, Georges Delerue, The Rolling Stones, and other artists. A soundtrack album for the film was released on November 3, 2009. It contains the following tracks:
|1.||"American Empirical Pictures"||Alexandre Desplat||0:15|
|2.||"The Ballad of Davy Crockett" (from Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, 1954)||George Bruns (music)
Thomas W. Blackburn (lyrics)
|3.||"Mr. Fox in the Fields"||Alexandre Desplat||1:03|
|4.||"Heroes and Villains" (from Smiley Smile, 1967)||Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks||The Beach Boys||3:37|
|5.||"Fooba Wooba John" (from Little White Duck, 1959)||Traditional||Burl Ives||1:07|
|6.||"Boggis, Bunce, and Bean"||Alexandre Desplat||0:51|
|7.||"Jimmy Squirrel and Co."||Alexandre Desplat||0:46|
|8.||"Love" (from Robin Hood, 1973)||George Bruns (music)
Floyd Huddleston (lyrics)
|9.||"Buckeye Jim" (from Little White Duck, 1959)||Traditional||Burl Ives||1:19|
|10.||"High-Speed French Train"||Alexandre Desplat||1:26|
|11.||"Whack-bat Majorette"||Alexandre Desplat||2:57|
|12.||"The Grey Goose" (from Little White Duck, 1959)||Traditional||Burl Ives||2:49|
|13.||"Bean's Secret Cider Cellar"||Alexandre Desplat||2:07|
|14.||"Une Petite Île" (from Two English Girls, 1971)||Delerue||Georges Delerue||1:36|
|15.||"Street Fighting Man" (from Beggars Banquet, 1968)||Jagger/Richards||The Rolling Stones||3:15|
|16.||"Fantastic Mr Fox AKA Petey's Song"||Cocker||Jarvis Cocker||1:21|
|17.||"Night and Day" (recorded 1946, released 1984 on Masters of Jazz)||Cole Porter||Art Tatum||1:28|
|18.||"Kristofferson's Theme"||Alexandre Desplat||1:36|
|19.||"Just Another Dead Rat in a Garbage Pail (Behind a Chinese Restaurant)"||Alexandre Desplat||2:34|
|20.||"Le Grand Choral" (from Day for Night, 1973)||Delerue||Georges Delerue||2:24|
|21.||"Great Harrowsford Square"||Alexandre Desplat||3:21|
|22.||"Stunt Expo 2004"||Alexandre Desplat||2:28|
|23.||"Canis Lupus"||Alexandre Desplat||1:16|
|24.||"Ol' Man River" (recorded 1968, released 2001 on Hawthorne, CA)||Jerome Kern (music)
Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics)
|The Beach Boys||1:18|
|25.||"Let Her Dance" (single, 1965)||Fuller||The Bobby Fuller Four||2:32|
The film had its world premiere as the opening film of the 53rd edition of the London Film Festival on October 14, 2009. 20th Century Fox released it theatrically on November 13, 2009. Fantastic Mr. Fox grossed $21,002,919 in the U.S., and $25,468,104 outside the U.S., making a total of $46,471,023 worldwide. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the DVD and Blu-ray on March 23, 2010. The Criterion Collection released the film on Blu-ray and DVD on February 18, 2014.
The film has a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 224 reviews and an average rating of 7.9/10. The site's consensus states: "Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal – and it shows Wes Anderson has a knack for animation."
The film also became the second highest-rated animated film in 2009 on the site, behind Up. It has an average review score of 83 ("universal acclaim") from review aggregator Metacritic, which includes positive reviews from publications such as Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, calling it "Excellent." A. O. Scott called Fantastic Mr. Fox "in some ways (Wes Anderson's) most fully realized and satisfying film. Once you adjust to its stop-and-start rhythms and its scruffy looks, you can appreciate its wit, its beauty and the sly gravity of its emotional undercurrents. The work done by the animation director, Mark Gustafson, by the director of photography, Tristan Oliver, and by the production designer, Nelson Lowry, shows amazing ingenuity and skill, and the music (by Alexandre Desplat, with the usual shuffle of well-chosen pop tunes, famous and obscure) is both eccentric and just right." Devin D. O'Leary of Weekly Alibi called it "a one-of-a-kind family classic".
According to Time, the film is "both a delightful amusement and a distillation of the filmmaker's essential playfulness" and was one of the ten best films of the year. Cosmo Landesman of The Sunday Times said "having a quirky auteur like Anderson make a children’s film is a bit like David Byrne, of Talking Heads, recording an album of nursery rhymes produced by Brian Eno"; according to Landesman, "in style and sensibility, this is really a Wes Anderson film, with little Dahl. It’s missing the darker elements that characterise Dahl’s books. There you find the whiff of something nasty: child abuse, violence, misogyny. Gone, too, is any sense of danger. Even the farmers, who are made to look a touch evil, don’t seem capable of it. We never feel the tension of watching the Fox family facing real peril. The film certainly has Americanized Dahl’s story, and I don’t mean the fact that the good animals have American accents and the baddies have British ones. It offers yet another celebration of difference and a lesson on the importance of being yourself. But it does leave you thinking: isn’t it time that children’s films put children first?"
Amy Biancolli from the Houston Chronicle stated that "Anderson injects such charm and wit, such personality and nostalgia — evident in the old-school animation, storybook settings and pitch-perfect use of Burl Ives — that it's easy to forgive his self-conscious touches."
Ann Hornaday from the Washington Post calls it a "self-consciously quirky movie that manages to be twee and ultra-hip at the same time, it qualifies as yet another wry, carefully composed bibelot in the cabinet of curios that defines the Anderson oeuvre." Peter Howell from the Toronto Star stated that "[i]n an age when everything seems digital, computer-driven and as fake as instant coffee, more and more artists (Spike Jonze and John Lasseter among them) are embracing the old ways of vinyl records, hand-drawn cartoons and painstaking stop-motion character movements." In 2011, Richard Corliss of TIME magazine named it one of "The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films".
The film was nominated for the 2010 Critics Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature, the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, the 2010 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and Academy Award for Best Original Score; but ultimately lost all the nominations to Up.
It was also nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics. Alexandre Desplat won Soundtrack Composer of the Year and World Soundtrack of the Year at the 2010 World Soundtrack Awards On January 14, 2010, the National Board of Review awarded Anderson a Special Filmmaking Achievement award.
After giving his acceptance speech, the audio of the speech was used in a short animation of Anderson's character (Weasel) giving the speech, animated by Payton Curtis, a key stop-motion animator on the film.
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