I don’t do film reviews.
I do go out and see films. I love to watch films when I have the chance. I cannot claim to have seen enough films this year to make more than a passing, half-hearted attempt at gauging what will win an Academy Award. I don’t even know if this film even qualifies, but I don’t care. I saw this entirely by accident in a crappy theater with terrible seats, a tin-horn sound system, and on a screen best described as two king sized beds side by side. Thin, narrow, and poorly illuminated as well. And, despite that, I was enthralled. Quality beat the presentation by a country mile.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox is the best film of the year, and it is the best film I’ve seen since I can remember. It is so unique and well done, I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve ever seen. It compares well to two other films by the same folks—Chicken Run and the Wallace and Gromit film from a few years ago. I hate computer animated films, or films with too many special effects, but I like the animation techniques in all of these films, and it really takes on a new life with The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Deliberately retro, almost intentionally cheesy in some ways, but brilliant to look at.
The voice acting though, is the best. The interplay between Mr. George Clooney and everyone else is so subtle and dead-on that it is not to be believed. There is so much real chemistry between the actors, even when handed nothing but a script and a microphone. There is not enough attention given to voice acting, I believe. It can either work or fall completely flat and sound forced. What Clooney does is to refuse to rush or push anything. He just lives within the sound of his own voice here. He is so capably complemented by Meryl Streep and Jason Schwartzman that it really does create something unique.
And Hollywood doesn’t give us unique very often. Nor does it give us quality when cheap and loud can be handed out in buckets. The Fantastic Mr. Fox has originality and quality embedded into it. The sprawling sets, the finite detail, and the delight of watching the miserable villains we see in this film are so rewarding. Political correctness goes out the window in this film. Someone had a snit over much of what we see in it—a Hollywood snit backed by focus-group research. Thank God Anderson won as many fights here as he did. I don’t know if he won them all, but he had to have won quite a few.
I think the film that I can compare it to, favorably, is Miller’s Crossing, with a loopy, invented language all its own and characters that are fleshed out and real. There are more ideas explored in the first five minutes of this film than you will see considered in more than half the films that are out right now, combined.
It truly is the best film of the year and I don’t say that lightly. It is an absolute triumph of filmmaking. It makes up for a year in which crap has been king. Do we need to see Robin Williams in anything anymore? Nope. Do we need any more Seth Rogen films? Not on your life. Do we need to hear anything else from Jennifer Aniston and her pals who make films no one remembers? No, and she’s really getting old fast, isn’t she, the poor girl. And I’ll tell you what absolutely hit me—the preview for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland played before The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It shouldn’t have.
Tim Burton should run screaming from this film and get those previews pulled. You cannot compare the randomly arranged muck of Tim Burton’s shit sandwich school of filmmaking with anything related to what Wes Anderson did with The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I realize it was a trailer, but it was a bad trailer. It was cut with a dull butter knife. Alice in Wonderland looked like Johnny Depp’s worst attempt at being mannered and weird since about twenty minutes ago. Really, can’t anyone see through his schtick by now? He’s still playing Benny and Joon for you suckers, complete with hangdog looks and someone else’s ideas. All of the characters in the forthcoming Alice film looked like they were done ten years ago by a terrible designer on the wrong computers. Depp looked like he had a flattened carrot on his head and as if he had insisted upon wearing porn star makeup, complete with a dashing smear in the wrong place. The Cheshire Cat looked like someone’s stuffed kitty. It was horrific and dull looking—much like everything else Tim Burton has been doing since Batman. The presence of Depp alone will bring in the money, but for what? For something pedestrian and half-baked? That’s just sad.
I marveled at the fact, leaving the theater, that Anderson absolutely owns Burton now. Forget the money and the numbers—Anderson owns everyone now. He’s done something that will force everyone to tear up whatever they’re doing and try much harder.