Fantastic Mr. Fox (film)

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Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fantastic mr fox.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Wes Anderson
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Fantastic Mr Fox 
by Roald Dahl
Starring
Music by Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography Tristan Oliver
Edited by Andrew Weisblum
Production
  company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • October 14, 2009 (2009-10-14) (London Film Festival)
  • November 13, 2009 (2009-11-13) (United States)
Running time 87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million[1]
Box office $46,471,023[1]

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a 2009 American stop-motion animated comedy film based on the Roald Dahl 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.

Produced by Indian Paintbrush and Regency Enterprises, and released in the autumn of 2009, the film features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, 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 in late 2009 to critical acclaim.[2]

Plot[edit]

While raiding a 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 when they escape.

Two years later (twelve in Fox Years), 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 mean farmers consisting of Walter Boggis, Nathaniel Bunce, and Franklin Bean. Soon after the Foxes move in, Felicity's nephew Kristofferson Silverfox comes to live with them, as his father has become very ill with double pneumonia. Ash finds this situation intolerable; his soft-spoken cousin is apparently superior to him at sports, and everyone, including his father, Mr. Fox, is charmed by Kristofferson at Ash's expense.

Fox and Kylie Opossum steal produce and poultry from the three farms. The farmers decide to kill Fox and camp out near the family's tree. When Fox emerges, the farmers open fire, but manage only to 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, the farmers lie in wait at the tunnel mouth. Underground, Fox encounters Badger and many other local animal residents whose homes have also been destroyed. As the animals begin fearing starvation, Fox leads Clive Badger, Rabbit, Mole, Beaver, Weasel, and Rickety in a digging expedition to tunnel to the three farms, robbing them clean. While the other animals feast, Ash and Kristofferson, beginning to reconcile after Kristofferson defended Ash from a bully, return to Bean's farm, intending to reclaim Mr. Fox's tail. When they are interrupted by the arrival of Bean'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 animals are forced into the sewers, and Fox learns that the farmers plan to use Kristofferson to lure him into an ambush. The animals are confronted by Rat, Bean's security guard. After a struggle with Fox leaves him mortally wounded, Rat divulges Kristofferson's location before he dies.

Fox asks the farmers for a meeting in town near the sewer hub; 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 Bean’s farm. A much-matured 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 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 in their aisles.

Cast[edit]

  • George Clooney as Mr. "Foxy" Fox, a red fox and bird thief who now is a newspaper columnist, Mrs. Fox's husband, Ash's father, and Kristofferson's uncle.
  • Meryl Streep as Felicity Fox, Mr. Fox's wife, Ash's mother, and Kristofferson's aunt.
  • Jason Schwartzman as Ash Fox, the son of Mr. Fox and Felicity Fox.
  • Bill Murray as Clive Badger,[3] Mr. Fox's lawyer. Even though he is identified as a European badger, he has an American accent.
  • Wally Wolodarsky as Kylie Sven Opossum, an opossum who is Mr. Fox's best friend and the building superintendent of Mr. Fox's tree house.
  • Eric Anderson as Kristofferson Silverfox, a silver fox who is the nephew of Felicity Fox and the cousin of Ash.
  • Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean, one of the three farmers that Mr. Fox steals from.
  • Willem Dafoe as Rat, a rat who works as Franklin Bean's security guard.
  • Owen Wilson as Coach Skip, an albino river otter who leads the school's wack-bat team.
  • Jarvis Cocker as Petey
  • Wes Anderson as Stan Weasel, a real estate agent.
  • Karen Duffy as Linda Otter
  • Robin Hurlstone as Walter Boggis, one of the three farmers that Mr. Fox steals from.
  • Hugo Guinness as Nathaniel Bunce, one of the three farmers that Mr. Fox steals from.
  • Helen McCrory as Mrs. Bean, the wife of Franklin Bean.
  • Roman Coppola as Squirrel Contractor
  • Juman Malouf as Agnes, a fox who is Ash's lab partner.
  • Garth Jennings as Bean's Son
  • Brian Cox as Daniel Peabody, an Action 12 Reporter.
  • Tristan Oliver as Explosives Man
  • James Hamilton as Phil Mole
  • Steve M. Rales as Mr. Beaver
  • Jeremy Dawson as Mr. Beaver's Son
  • Adrien Brody as Rickity, a field mouse.
  • Mario Batali as Mr. Rabbit[4]
  • Rob Hersov as Pilot
  • Jennifer Furches as Dr. Badger
  • Allison Abbate as Mr. Rabbit's Ex-Girlfriend
  • Molly Copper as Rabbit Girl
  • Martin Ballard as Fire Chief

Production[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] 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 early 2006.[8] He was replaced by Mark Gustafson.[9] 20th Century Fox became the project's home in October 2006 after Revolution folded.[10]

In September 2007, Anderson announced voice work would begin.[11] Cate Blanchett was to voice Mrs. Fox, but she left the role for undisclosed reasons.[12]

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."[9] He said of the production design, "we want to use real trees and real sand, but it's all miniature."[11] Great Missenden, where Roald Dahl lived, has a major influence on the film's look.[6] The film mixes several forms of animation but consists primarily of stop motion.[10] Animation took place in London,[9] on stage C at 3 Mills Studio,[13] with Anderson directing the crew, many of whom animated Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.[14] 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.[15]

Soundtrack[edit]

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released November 3, 2009
Genre Film score
Rock
Length 43:41
Label ABKCO
Wes Anderson film soundtrack chronology
The Darjeeling Limited
(2007)
Fantastic Mr. Fox
(2009)

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.[16] 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:[17]

No. Title Artist Length
1. "American Empirical Pictures"   Alexandre Desplat 0:15
2. "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" (from Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, 1954) The Wellingtons 1:40
3. "Mr. Fox in the Fields"   Alexandre Desplat 1:03
4. "Heroes and Villains" (from Smiley Smile, 1967) The Beach Boys 3:37
5. "Fooba Wooba John" (from Little White Duck, 1959) 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) Nancy Adams 1:49
9. "Buckeye Jim" (from Little White Duck, 1959) 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) Burl Ives 2:49
13. "Bean's Secret Cider Cellar"   Alexandre Desplat 2:07
14. "Une Petite Île" (from Two English Girls, 1971) Georges Delerue 1:36
15. "Street Fighting Man" (from Beggars Banquet, 1968) The Rolling Stones 3:15
16. "Fantastic Mr Fox AKA Petey's Song"   Jarvis Cocker 1:21
17. "Night and Day" (recorded 1946, released 1984 on Masters of Jazz) 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) 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) The Beach Boys 1:18
25. "Let Her Dance" (single, 1965) The Bobby Fuller Four 2:32

Release[edit]

The film had its world premiere as the opening film of the 53rd edition of the London Film Festival on October 14, 2009.[18]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 23, 2010.[19] The Criterion Collection released the film on Blu-ray and DVD on February 18, 2014.[20]

Reception[edit]

Fantastic Mr. Fox received positive reviews from a vast majority of critics.[21] The film currently has a 93% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 210 reviews, with the site's consensus stating "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.[2] 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.[22]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, calling it "Excellent."[23]

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."[24] According to Time, the film is "both a delightful amusement and a distillation of the filmmaker's essential playfulness"[25] and was one of the ten best films of the year.[26]

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?"[27]

Amy Biancolli from the Houston Chronicle states 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."[28] 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."[29] Peter Howell from the Toronto Star states 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."[30]

In 2011, Richard Corliss of TIME Magazine named it one of "The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films".[31] Despite its critical success, the film's box office receipts were overshadowed by other films, particularly The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Fantastic Mr. Fox grossed $21,002,919 in the U.S., and $25,468,104 worldwide, making a total of $46,471,023.[1]

Awards[edit]

The film was nominated for the 2010 Critics Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature,[32] the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film,[33] the 2010 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and Academy Award for Best Original Score;[34] 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[35]

On January 14, 2010, the National Board of Review awarded Anderson a Special Filmmaking Achievement award.[36] 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.[37]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Fantastic Mr. Fox". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ Max Evry (October 9, 2008). "Talking to City of Ember Mayor Bill Murray". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved October 9, 2008. 
  4. ^ Jeffrey Podolsky (November 11, 2009). ""Fantastic Mr. Fox’s" Bill Murray on Co-Star Mario Batali: "We ride motor bikes together downtown."". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Devo Is Dead. Long Live Devo.". Wired. May 2006. Retrieved August 1, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Gritten, David (November 17, 2007). "The Darjeeling Limited: Who needs a film set in LA when you have a speeding train in India?". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved November 22, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Selick Crazy For Fox". Sci Fi Wire. December 15, 2004. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved November 22, 2007. 
  8. ^ "Selick no longer at work on The Fantastic Mr. Fox". Ain't It Cool News. February 15, 2006. Retrieved July 11, 2006. 
  9. ^ a b c Joe Utichi (November 22, 2007). "Interview: Wes Anderson talks Darjeeling Limited and Mr. Fox". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 22, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b Michael Fleming (October 25, 2006). "Fox catches Dahl's Fox". Variety. Retrieved February 25, 2007. 
  11. ^ a b Josh Horowitz (September 26, 2007). "Wes Anderson Enlists Bill Murray For 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox'". MTV Movies Blog. Retrieved September 26, 2007. 
  12. ^ "EXCL: 1st Mr. Fox pic!". JoBlo.com. July 10, 2009. Retrieved July 11, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Who Are the Animators on Fantastic Mr. Fox?". Lineboil. January 12, 2010. Retrieved January 17, 2010. 
  14. ^ Edward Douglas (February 2, 2009). "Henry Selick on Making Coraline". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  15. ^ Steve Prokopy (February 2, 2009). "Capone Talks with CORALINE Director and Wizard Master Henry Selick!!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  16. ^ Brent DiCrescenzo (July 17, 2008). "From the UK to the Magic Kingdom". Time Out. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Fantastic Mr. Fox Soundtrack Listing". Slashfilm.com. September 21, 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  18. ^ Ben Child (July 28, 2009). "Fantastic Mr Fox to open London Film Festival". The Guardian. Retrieved July 28, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Fantastic Mr. Fox". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  20. ^ "Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) - The Criterion Collection". Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  21. ^ "Picture-book classic mixes the familiar and the stylish with imaginative results". Weekly Alibi. 
  22. ^ "Fantastic Mr. Fox". Metacritic. Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  23. ^ Roger Ebert – Fantastic Mr. Fox Review
  24. ^ Scott, A. O. (November 13, 2009). "Don't Count Your Chickens". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  25. ^ Pols, Mary (November 13, 2009). "Wes Anderson's Return to Form". Time. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  26. ^ Corliss, Richard (December 8, 2009). "Wes Anderson's Return to Form". Time. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  27. ^ Landesman, Cosmo (October 25, 2009). "The Fantastic Mr Fox". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  28. ^ AMY BIANCOLLI, Houston Chronicle http://www.chron.com/entertainment/movies/article/Fantastic-Mr-Fox-1720278.php accessdate=2011-09-03
  29. ^ Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, November 27, 2009 http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/movies/fantastic-mr.-fox,1158822/critic-review.html accessdate=2011-09-03
  30. ^ Peter Howell. Toronto Star http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/movies/article/730368--fantastic-mr-fox-the-hipster-and-the-chicken-thief accessdate=2011-09-03
  31. ^ Richard Corliss (June 23, 2011). "The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films – Fantastic Mr. Fox". TIME. Retrieved August 19, 2011. 
  32. ^ "15th Annual Critics Choice Award Nominees". ScreenCrave. Retrieved December 14, 2009. 
  33. ^ "Nominations and Winners". Hollywood Foreign Press Assoc. Retrieved December 15, 2009. 
  34. ^ "http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/82/nominees.html". AMPAS. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  35. ^ "World Soundtrack Awards 2010". Worldsoundtrackacademy.com. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  36. ^ "National Board of Review: Special Filmmaking Achievement award list". National Board of Review. Retrieved January 17, 2010. 
  37. ^ "FANTASTIC MR. FOX – Wes Anderson's Animated Acceptance Speech". YouTube. January 13, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 

External links[edit]