Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Clooney Twooney pt. 1: THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX

I spent a lot of time with George Clooney last weekend. Yes, that handsome darling of an older gentleman and I enjoyed four hours together on Saturday and Sunday, and I have to say, it was a bit uneven. I haven't seen two films in the theater in a weekend for as long as I can remember, but between the need to see Fantastic Mr. Fox on the big screen (I'm a Wes Anderson sycophant, somebody help me) and a hungover rainy Sunday viewing of Up In The Air, it just happened.

It's late, so my Clooney Twooney is being divided down the middle, but I'll discuss my thoughts on the amazing Fantastic Mr. Fox today and then poke holes in the nonsense of Up In The Air come Monday. Clooney love will be spattered throughout

Fantastic Mr. Fox

As I just stated, I'm a bit of Wes Anderson fan. The Royal Tenenbaums has long been my favorite movie (though that list needs some serious tweaking) with Rushmore, The Life Aquatic, and Bottle Rocket peppering my top twenty. Hell, I even loved The Darjeeling Limited. Thus, when Yon-Marcum, my hirsute roomie inquired about my interest in a screening of his new stop-motion adaptation of beloved kids author Roald Dahl's equally beloved short story, I was more than in. Sure it was going to cost me 10.50 (my fake student discount only works at AMC theaters on Thursday, and then it still would've been 8.50) but I haven't missed out on an Anderson film in the theater since Rushmore.

And, of course, a Wes Anderson film featuring George Clooney as a smooth talking animated fox? Both arms and legs would be sold to see this film.

This is a film about Mr. Fox and, as in all Wes Anderson films, his extremely large family. His beautiful wife (Meryl Streep, who I swear only gets better with age), his cape-wearing son (Jason Schwartzman), his talented nephew (Eric Anderson) and a bevy of other animals who loosely fill in the cracks. Mr. Fox, Foxy, is a retired chicken thief who's become a writer in his old age, but yearns for a new life above the burrows he and his family have spent their lives in. When he moves to a tree though, his years of burglary come back to haunt him.

First things first, this is a Wes Anderson film. Animated or adapted or directed from a hotel room, this is as much a Wes Anderson film as any he's made. Sure, the actor's are replaced with beautifully crafted stop-motion figurines, but that's the only change. The short square shots buoyed by rectangular tracking shots? Check. The diverse brood of characters? Check. The sleeve full of family issues worn proudly? Check. And finally, the dry, yet cheery ending? Check.

This is Wes Anderson, and if you've tired of his style, this film isn't for you. And we can't be friends anymore.

That said, this is Anderson in a whole new sandbox, one bedecked with a sort of whimsical silliness unseen in his other films. The Pulp-scored dance/thievery montage comes to mind. The spiral-eyed possum comes to mind. The insane proportions of the film's baddies come to mind. Willem Dafoe's perverted, L'siana rat comes to mind. This is a Wes Anderson deftly combined with the surreal world of Roald Dahl's imagination and it is a beautiful combination.

The dialogue is sharp and crisp, the themes (being different is a-okay) delightfully executed, and best of all the colors pop like winter fireworks. I found myself smiling, giggling, and generally enjoying myself like no other film this year.

And how's Clooney as an animated burglar fox? Fantastic. Absolutely. He's my perfect crook - charming, witty, funny, but tinged with enough experience that you know he could be deadly. After the film Yon-Marcum and I discussed how we'd love to see the prequel to this film or the further adventures of Foxy and family. How'd we'd enjoy even dipping in to a different story as long as it existed in this little world.

A solid 10 of a film. Get out and see it if you can.

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