Monday, November 23, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox brings out the animal in Anderson

Posted By on Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge WILD THINGS: Wes Anderson gives woodland beasts human hearts.
  • WILD THINGS: Wes Anderson gives woodland beasts human hearts.

The title mammal of Fantastic Mr. Fox often punctuates his remarks with a jaunty little whistle-click-click combination, to emphasize his devil-may-care attitude. When his opossum sidekick asks about the habit, Mr. Fox replies, “That’s my trademark!” For a footloose rascal and self-described “wild animal,” Mr. Fox seems suspiciously image-conscious, as if he’s trying to live up to an ideal of himself.

The films of Wes Anderson, director of Fantastic Mr. Fox, contain more bells, whistles and trademarks than you could count on one paw. With his reasonably naturalistic debut, Bottle Rocket, Anderson established his fondness for deadpan comedy and the transcendent power of obscure 1960s and ’70s pop songs. Since then, his childhood-obsessed cinematic settings have become increasingly artificial, at once lovely and fussed-over, like intricate models or shop windows. Rather than break out of Andersonville and into the real world, the filmmaker burrows further into the fantasy realm with Fantastic Mr. Fox. Ironically, Anderson’s latest turns out to be his most heartfelt, human movie since Rushmore, despite its cast of woodland beasts.

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(Photo Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures)

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