Out of the many books by children's authors that are adapted to film, the books by Roald Dahl mostly tend to be excellent. Save for Tim Burton's disastrous retelling of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", I have really enjoyed the movies made based on Dahl's books. Now we have another movie that I can happily say is yet another great adaptation. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is the debut animated movie from famed director Wes Anderson and he was able to craft a movie that can successfully do some elements differently from the book while also adding touches to make the movie memorable. I'll explain why this really works out well.
Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) have given up the life of raiding farms after their only son, Ash (Jason Schwartzman). Mr. Fox is now a newspaper columnist and has now moved the family from a burrow to a tree nearby three farms run by three dangerous farmers named Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), Bunce (Hugo Guinness) and Bean (Michael Gambon). Wanting to conduct one last raid, Mr. Fox, his assistant possum Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky) and his nephew Kristofferson (Eric Anderson) steals items from all three farms much to the farmers and Felicity's anger. Wanting to kill the fox, the farmers come along and try to dig the foxes out of their tree only to discover that the foxes keep digging away from the danger. After having led to the destructions of their home and the homes of other critters, Mr. Fox decides to declare war on the farmers in order to fight for their survival.
The thing that I really enjoyed about this movie was the script. The script in this movie written by Anderson and director Noah Baumbach was smartly written as well as very funny. Though the movie can be viewed by kids, I think adults will enjoy the movie more mainly due to how adult the film is. The characters talk like people in other movies minus the swear words which Anderson and Schwartzman simply replace with the word "cuss". As an example, the character would say something like "The cuss you would," or "That was the craziest cussing thing I've ever done." You might think it would get old fast, but it actually doesn't. I also like how the story can be both faithful and different from the book at the same time. Elements to the story are added, particularly the relationship between Mr. Fox and Felicity and I personally think it's needed to advance the story along and give the characters some depth. As for the animation, it's brilliantly crafted. It's done entirely in stop motion animation without any digital help which I found very impressive. It also included some of Anderson's style into the film as well like the camera angles being mostly centered. I also really enjoyed the characters in the movie. Where in the book they are likable though don't have a lot of personalities, here they are given tons of personality and charisma to boast. Even a subplot involving a feud between Ash and Kristofferson which I thought would be the weakest part of the movie was actually really well realized and written. As far as flaws go, the character designs of the humans did bother me at times due to how odd they were, though they were not too bad to be distracting.
"Fantastic Mr. Fox" is a very smart movie with a well-written story, some impressive animation, and characters with lots of personality and charm to boast. Considering that this is the first animated film from Wes Anderson, I'm really impressed by how much detailed elements went into this film. I'm very eager to see if he continues to make stop-motion movies because I feel he can reach the heights of the people at Aardman and Henry Selick. We'll just have to wait and see.