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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is there a better Thanksgiving movie than 'Fantastic Mr. Fox?'

Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox may be the best Thanksgiving movie ever made, which is ironic, considering that it takes place in England and never mentions the quintessential American feast. A couple of years ago Anderson and co-scripter Noah Baumbach freely adapted Roald Dahl's children's book, adding dysfunctional family themes that work remarkably well, given that the primary cast consists of woodland creatures voiced by American actors. Fantastic Mr. Fox never overtly mentions Thanksgiving holiday, but it's nonetheless rich with the season's iconography. The earth-toned color scheme reflects the browns, reds and golds of autumn, and few films so unabashedly celebrate the eating of poultry. Consider Bill Murray's description of the three antagonists, the English farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean:

"Walt Boggis is a chicken farmer, probably the most successful in the world. He weighs the same as a young rhinoceros. He eats three chickens every day: breakfast, lunch, supper, and dessert. That's twelve in total per day.

"Nate Bunce is a duck and goose farmer. He's about the size of a pot-bellied dwarf, and his chin would be under the shallow end of any swimming pool on the planet. His food is homemade donuts with mashed-up goose livers injected into them.

"Frank Bean is a turkey and apple farmer. He invented his own species of each. He lives on a diet of strong alcoholic cider which he makes from his apples. He's as skinny as a pencil, as smart as a whip, and possibly the scariest man currently living."


The conflict of Fantastic Mr. Fox stems from the title character's midlife crisis and his son's adolescent resentments, and both characters learn to accept their limitations while taking advantage of their personal gifts. Mr. Fox builds to several lovely feast scenes, complete with toasts, and ultimately Mr. Fox learns to adopt an attitude of gratitude. The film lives up to the spirit of Thanksgiving, if not the specifics. So where's Mr. Fox's Macy's parade float? Anyway, eat up:

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