Fantastic Mr. Fox
It doesn’t take long to realize Fantastic Mr. Fox bears a strong resemblance to another George Clooney action movie, Ocean’s Eleven, where crooks are the good guys and their criminal antics are glamorized. In this animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book about a four-legged lawbreaker (which is voiced by George Clooney), the main character is forced to give up his life of thievery when his wife Felicity (voice by Meryl Streep) announces she is pregnant.
Yet after 12 years, his honest job as a newspaper columnist and life in a foxhole has lost its appeal for the wily animal. In spite of his lawyer’s (voice by Bil Murray) better advice, Fox buys a tree house and moves his family in across the field from three of the fiercest, grumpiest farmers in the whole country—Walter Boggis (voice by Robin Hurlstone), Nathan Bunce (voice by Hugo Guinness) and Franklin Bean (voice by Michael Gambon). But living within sight of the town’s biggest chicken producer is too big of a temptation for the reformed crook. Before long Fox is sneaking out on his wife and son (voice by Jason Schwartzman) to steal plump hens from Boggis (voice by Robin Hurlstone). His crime spree extends to filching smoked meat from Bunce and apple cider booze from Bean’s wine cellar.
Unfortunately his felonies don’t just impact Fox and his family. The other forest animals also suffer when the determined farmers attempt to put an end to these escapades with guns, explosives and backhoes. Forced underground without food or water, Fox’s friends all face a terrible fate. In spite of that, Fox’s addiction to robbery, and the attention it brings, keeps him from repenting of his misdemeanors. And he simply looks for something else to pilfer.
Using puppets, this animated tale offers a creative version of the story, however the themes it promotes—crime, drinking and lying—are hardly family friendly. While the script avoids the use of any common profanities, it frequently uses the substitute "cuss" in conversations. Like many of Dahl’s other stories, including Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this film also features negative depictions of obese characters and subtle messages about class distinctions.
Regrettably for parents and kids looking for a literary treat, Mr. Fox and his friends are anything but fantastic company.