Getting nominated for Best Animated Picture
may not seem like that big a deal - any animated film that
seems more interested in storytelling than product selling
has a decent shot at qualifying. But Wes Anderson's Fantastic
Mr. Fox has more to it than that. It's challenging in
style, wistful in theme and unlike most animated films,
distinctly the work of an auteur.
reviewed the film back in November, and upon watching
it a second time, it still had power. For younger kids,
however, it might be a little dry. The humor depends on
an understanding - or at least a willingness to flail at
understanding - things about adults that some might not
be ready for yet. Certainly the cuss-outs only work for
those who get that there are some words they simply should
not be saying in polite company.
If you have one of those kids, or are one
of those people that understand a good film is a good film
regardless of its trappings, then it's definitely worth
delving further into the DVD.
The disc includes an explanation of the
game of Whack-Bat, a sport that no one should try at home.
Yet on a summer night at the edge of the countryside, it's
comforting to imagine the woodland creatures competing at
this with as much fervor as we do baseball.
Not having read Roald Dahl's original children's
book, it came as a surprise to me that Whack-Bat was an
invention of Anderson's. A featurette explains the process
of expanding on the source material, and illuminates that
sense of whimsical melancholy (whimsicholy?) that pervades
the movie and much of Anderson's work.
Upon watching Anderson explain himself
and act out scenes, it's also pretty clear how much the
animation actually mirrors the director. Mr. Fox and Mr.
Anderson have the same proportions, and though the DVD never
shows it, it's not hard to imagine Anderson alighting from
point to point with as much cunning and grace as his vulpine
He also reflects upon his admiration for
the original King Kong, hooking him on the style
of stop-motion animation. It's a treat watching his enthusiasm,
and easy to see a team of animators going from grumbling
at this outsider to being completely swept up in his vision.
Get this one for the shelf. If it doesn't
enthrall your child the first time around, don't give up.
Wait a little while and try again. It's not only worth it
for your kids, it's worth it for you to remember that no
matter where you are in life, it's never too late to be