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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bandit Hats, 40% off

Last night, I bought and watched the Fantastic Mr. Fox for the first time. I always check the Rotten Tomatoes reviews, despite my full trust and faith in Wes Anderson, and as I expected the movie received a 93% rating. For the most part, the poor reviews stated how it was too dialogue centered and lacked action. This statement struck me as odd, as it can be pretty much said for any of Wes Anderson's films. Most of the time, it really is a lot of dialogue and character development. There are usually one or two points of big action, but otherwise the plot is moved by words and thoughts. I'll come back to this.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was an amazing flick. First of all, I love stop-motion animation (who doesn't from our generation.) Just seeing some of the characters made me laugh, especially Ash, Mr. Fox's "different" son. The detail on the puppets is pretty remarkable, considering all of the characters are covered in hair. Anderson shot the movie the same way he would any other, for the most part; a lot of facial close-ups. Seeing the tiny faces move with the same expressions that the actors must have had was awesome. So visually this movie is a definite 10. I'd say it outdoes any of Tim Burton's stop-motion movies, and I'm a huge fan of those as well.

Many of the voices are quite recognizable, like George Clooney as Mr. Fox, Jason Schwartzman as Ash, Bill Murray as Badger, and Owen Wilson as the Coach. I was surprised to see Willem Dafoe in there though, as the evil Southern Rat, and Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) as the head human, Franklin Bean. All of the actors did great jobs and it would be hard to replace anyone. Meryl Streep is even in there as Mrs. Fox, and is fabulously underplayed.

The plot is basically this: Mr. Fox used to steal chickens for a living, but now writes a newspaper column because his wife asked him to stop. He moves to a new house and goes back to his old ways. This obviously gets him in trouble. It's a simple story, but the way it's told is what makes it special. The side stories are hilarious and the headers that state where the characters are and what time it is (in fox years) are one of my favorite aspects of the movie.

Now, returning to my first paragraphical idea- the movie being too dialogue centered and lacking action. I've discovered that this is one of things I love about all of Wes Anderson's movies, and I think I know why. Life does not have huge action sequences throughout, we mostly just talk, think, and follow a routine. In that way, his movies are far more believable, despite some of the scenarios being totally bizarre, yet not impossible. I think this is why I connect to these movies so well, you really get to know the characters in a much more intimate way than most other films these days. Yes, movies are supposed to tell an entire story in about 2 hours and need to have action to keep the audience occupied, but that's a rule that I appreciate being broken. Like any story, book, movie or TV, I need to feel a connection with the characters, and that's what Anderson delivers each time. I can't wait for his next film.

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