You really are kind of a quote-unquote Fantastic Fox


Magdalene Yen, Features Editor

I hate movies. I have hated them since I was little. I find them unfulfilling and a waste of time. However, a director I will always watch is Wes Anderson. Even though I am an avid hater of movies, I appreciate art. Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors because his movies are art.

Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the book written by Roald Dahl, is a heartwarming story about family, acceptance, and growth. 

Mr. Fox, played by George Clooney, makes his livelihood by stealing poultry from the farmers nearby. When he and his wife almost die, he promises her he will never steal again. The movie picks back up 12 fox years later. He has settled down and became a journalist. But Mr. Fox feels he has lost some of himself to have a family.

With the help of Kylie the possum (Wallace Wolodarsky), Mr. Fox starts to steal again. Every morning there are more and more dead birds in the pantry. The farmers start to notice and plan to hunt the fox down. As Mr. Fox is leaving his home one night, the three farmers camp in the bushes and ambush him, shooting off his tail. The farmers are not satisfied that he gets away. They start to dig him out. This forces his family and the families of the other animals into the area underground. They are digging around for days. The farmers rent power tools and turn all their and their staff’s attention to finding the elusive fox. All the while, he is digging right under their noses. 

Perhaps a thing I dislike more than movies is comedy. However, this movie is funny in a way I appreciate. Mr. Bean’s line, “That’s just bad songwriting, Petey (Jarvis Cocker). You wrote a bad song.” The man that yells “contact!” as he blows up a hill and discovers only a small hole in the dirt. Bean’s son (Garth Jennings) laughs at him and Fox’s tail as a necktie. Many of these lines became standard in my home to say. The use of the word “cuss” in place of bad words adds a funny air and keeps the movie appropriate for children. 

Wes Anderson’s use of color and symmetry lends itself to beautiful cinematography. There is no official costume designer as Anderson usually takes that role upon himself. Foxy’s corduroy suit, Mrs. Fox’s (Meryl Streep) apple dress with the paintbrush pocket, Agnes’s (Juman Malouf) dress and hair clips are all artistic touches that add such liveliness and personality to their characters. There is so much warmth and vibrancy in the colors. The consistent oranges and yellows and warm reds add a cozy, happy feeling to the movie. 

The sets, the colors, and the details of the costumes are so full of precise, minute, beautiful detail. For example, there is a scene where Bean lights his cigarette in the dark, and it momentarily illuminates his face. I have seen this movie so many times, and every time, I gain something new from it. I notice new details and something different every time. The movie has such intense, extensive world-building; Wes Anderson’s movies must be watched multiple times to absorb it all. 

Filming the movie was an intense test of patience, as Anderson has been reported as a perfectionist and difficult to please. The movie is entirely claymation. Go Magazine reported that, “The production crew had to craft and capture about 125,000 individual pictures … Every second in the film is made up from about 24 individual shots,” said Postlethwait.

Despite Fantastic Mr. Fox being a PG movie, it portrays complex themes that not many kids movies touch. When Felicity finds out she is pregnant, she makes Foxy promise her he will never steal another poultry (or squab whatever they are) again. However, Foxy represents the idea that they are wild animals dressed up, trying to function as humans, and sometimes they slip. This shows the duality of the animals’ characters: their wildness and civility. For example, in one scene, Badger and Mr. Fox are dressed in suits discussing house payments and mortgages. They get upset and an animalistic battle of hissing and snarling ensues.

Another main theme is excessive greed. Foxy can’t take just one chicken, he takes enough to fill the pantry. Ultimately, greed destroys his family, community, town and house. However, it doesn’t just affect Foxy either. The farmers destroy their town and production on their farms to catch a single fox. The all-consuming obsession destroys everything. Mr. Fox wants to be what he is: a wild animal. Felicity wants him to be what he can be: a father, a husband, and a “quote-unquote Fantastic Fox.”

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a story about wishing to be liked—searching for validation from the people you love in your life. It is a movie about putting aside what you think you are, and what you want to be, to become who you need to be. It is a movie about battling with what you are and what you need to be.