I am sitting in a hotel room around midnight after having to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and having been doing things all day. So I’m a little sleepy. Please forgive me for any errors I type. But a few days ago, I watched Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) all the way through for the first time and, by George, it was delightful!
I know I describe films as “fun” over and over again, but that’s kind of the point of films. You go in to a dark movie theater with strangers to be entertained. That entertainment may be from laughing, to tuning out for some conventional entertainment, to getting scared, or to watching some deep dramas to see how characters act in certain situations. Fantastic Mr. Fox is basically every reason why you go to the movie theater.
Let’s look at the structure. It is probably the most conventional Wes Anderson story you’ll get (not to say Wes Anderson does anything structurally crazy, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) probably being his most structurally crazy with all the flashbacks and flashforwards). But that’s because Fantastic Mr. Fox is a children’s film. Better put, it’s a family film. You need some storytelling conventions to keep things simple. But that obviously does not mean you can’t play around inside the structure, which I’m going to say seems like a pretty basic three act structure. Again! Nothing wrong with that!
Wes Anderson seems to love books. Many of his films open with books or books are used as some sort of narrative device. Many times in his films, you’ll see characters walking from left to right (the way we read), unless something bad is happening, in which case, the characters move right to left. Yes, this isn’t true for every lateral shot but you’re welcome to fight me on where I stand with this. Wes Anderson uses his love for books and turns it up to eleven for Fantastic Mr. Fox. He uses shots of characters looking straight into the screen with their names above them. Or how there seem to be chapter titles. Or a lot of left to right movement. Everything is put together to form a moving picture book. Fitting, since it’s adapted from a Roald Dahl story, aka the king of children’s stories.
Is this my favorite Wes Anderson film? Nah, of course not. While the structure is conventional, it does make it a little predictable, BUT this is also a family film. So I can forgive the easiness of plot. Next time I watch the film, I can put myself into the mindset that this isn’t a… normal(?) Wes Anderson film. It is, however, an expertly crafted, well told, fun, poignant, and all around good film. I very much look forward to watching it again.
Remember, I’m so tired. I’m sorry this “review” wasn’t that dope. I’ll do better next time.