Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Movie Review - Fantastic Mr. Fox

Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: George Clooney, Jason Schwartzman, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray
Year: 2009

As you might have guessed from the name of my blog, I'm a big Wes Anderson fan. 111 Archer Avenue is the address of the Tenenbaum family in my favorite film of all time The Royal Tenenbaums, directed by, of course, Anderson (Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited). I have seen all of the films he has directed and am very excited for Moonrise Kingdom, coming in 2012, starring Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, and Frances McDormand. Yet, when I heard he had directed an animated feature, I was skeptical. Guardedly excited, but skeptical.

Based on the children's book of the same name by Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox is the story of the Fox family and their war with a group of local farmers, Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. Clooney (ER, Ocean's Eleven) is the voice of Mr. Fox, who cannot resist his wild animal urges. His constant raiding of the triumvirate farmers forces them into action, and a war is declared against all animals in the territory. As the animals fight to survive, Mr. Fox must choose between following his trouble making instincts and his responsibility to his family: his wife, Streep (Death Becomes Her, The River Wild) and his son, Schwartzman (Rushmore, I Heart Huckabees). The fate of the fauna lies in the hands of the self-proclaimed fantastic Mr. Fox.

For those who have read any stories by Roald Dahl, you know just how dark they can be. This film was no different. It was a clever blend between childish fancy and devilish humor. Anderson always does a masterful job of making light of serious moments and revealing the depth of everyday ones, and he did so skillfully is this film. Because it was animated, Anderson was able to let loose his wild imagination, yet the restraints of the book kept him from going too far, as he did to disaster in The Life Aquatic in 2004. Still, it was quite a strange film, with no warning or build-up to the weirdness. Less than an hour and a half in length, the movie felt more like a short than a feature film. And yet, had it been any longer, I believe it would have started to drag and to become a little tedious.

Fantastic Mr. Fox did not quite live up to its name. It was wonderfully odd and darkly funny in spots, but overall it wasn't spectacular. One wonders who this film was made for; it would not be appreciated by young audiences, and most adults moviegoers would find it too strange to enjoy. Anderson can be guilty of this sort of egocentricity, and this film did indeed seem to have been made for himself and his friends, not for the public or even for the devoted Wes Anderson fan. As a quick break from reality, it was an enjoyable movie. But as a film, it was nothing special.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰


  1. (Slightly) dissenting opinion: This movie was really interesting and offers something different for those tired of typical Hollywood fare. If you like Wes Anderson movies, do yourself a favor and check this one out.

  2. It was interesting and it did have some Wes Anderson flair.