Monday, November 30, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox

"O, R they?"

When Mr. Fox steals one too many times, three vengeful farmers endeavor to rid their land of him and his family

It seems that it is only a matter of time before every last word that Roald Dahl ever penned has been adapted for the silver screen, and with varying results. Fantastic Mr. Fox is really a blend of these results, a series of layers presenting everything from genius to annoyance.
There's an ingenuity to the adaptation of this story that can't be ignored. Obviously, first it had to be extended, which I think was done in a relevant (if not labored) way. And the choice to further personify the characters, especially to the degree at which it is done, was brilliant one. This allows the characters to be a bit more complicated than in the original story, which lends itself to extending the story in the first place, and might allow a deeper connection to the characters if I didn't hate them.
And there in lays "the rub". The problem isn't the choice to further personify the characters, the problem is the choice to let Wes Anderson do the personifying. I'm sure this statement might see my name slandered over more than one iced soy mocha frappacino, but in my opinion Wes Anderson is one of the most over-rated film makers I've ever come across. His stylized cinematography is something I've really come to enjoy, however it seems that's the only thing. Apparently stocking your films full of inhumanly awkward, shallow characters who's selfishness makes them so unsympathetic that by the middle of the movie you could careless what happens to them at the end is exactly what people my age find funny and poignant... Which I guess means I'm secretly forty.
This movie is a well put together and uniquely adapted adventure with yet another set of Anderson's standard characters, which overshadows all the ingenuity and creates a sense of repetition not helped at all by the "here we go again" performances offered by George Clooney and Jason Schwartzman. There are, of course, moments of genuine comedy sprinkled throughout the film- but more often they are null or odd spaces that Anderson's followers have trained themselves to laugh at.
Where Mr. Fox was originally a character able to garner sympathy through the necessity of his actions, he is now simply an egotist who deserves to be chased. This simple tweak unraveled the quaint draw of the original story- and though the space it left definitely could have been filled, Anderson's script was not up to the task. Fans of his work will find little not to love in Fantastic Mr. Fox, but your average every once in a while movie-goer may find themselves nudging their companion and asking: "Was that supposed to be funny?"

Reel Deal Recommends:
Solaris: Still everyday George Clooney, just everyday George Clooney in a mesmerizing movie.
Rushmore: Jason Schwartzman in the only Wes Anderson movie I enjoy.

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