Fantastic Mr. Fox Reviews

Fantastic Mr. Fox takes in the reviews

With Friday’s release of Fantastic Mr. Fox in New York and Los Angeles, tons of reviews are pouring in. We’ll try and keep tab on most of them here, positive and negative, and will update as more appear. Excerpts below, full reviews at the links to the left of them. At the time of posting, the film had an 87% at Metacritic, and a 93% at Rotten Tomatoes. To see a similar round-up of UK reviews from a few weeks back, click here.

New York Times, A.O. Scott – “So “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which Mr. Anderson wrote with Noah Baumbach, and which he has been hoping to make for many years, is in some ways his most fully realized and satisfying film. Once you adjust to its stop-and-start rhythms and its scruffy looks, you can appreciate its wit, its beauty and the sly gravity of its emotional undercurrents.” Critic’s Pick

Fresh Air (NPR), David Edelstein – “For all the engineering behind The Fantastic Mr. Fox, it still feels handmade, as if the artists were in the room, manipulating everything onscreen. When it ended, I wished they’d come out and take a bow: animation director Mark Gustafson, cinematographer Tristan Oliver, designer Nelson Lowry, the whole team. And of course Wes Anderson, who for the first time has a right to preen.” (Edelstein also reviews the film for New York Magazine)

Village Voice, Scott Foundas – “For the reportedly painstaking labor it took to create, the film is a marvel to behold—with wonderful shifts in perspective, an intensely tactile design, and an intentional herky-jerkiness of motion that only enriches the make-believe atmosphere”

Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman – “Who’d have guessed it? Wes Anderson, creator of the rascally stop-motion fable Fantastic Mr. Fox, turns out to be born to make animated films.” Grade: A

Variety, Todd McCarthy – “Much is being made of reports that Anderson was not physically present during the film’s actual making in London, that he directed by remote links from Paris. Whatever the case, Anderson’s indelible imprint is on every frame here, more for better than for worse.”

The A.V. Club, Tasha Robinson – “Dahl’s short book is a simple adventure about a vain fox at war with three grumpy farmers. The film version, co-scripted by Anderson and The Squid And The Whale’s Noah Baumbach, keeps the story but expands it with complicated familial conflicts.” Grade: B

Time Out New York, Keith Uhlich – “The overall sensation is of an artist repeating himself, scaling down his obsessions to empty-vessel miniature—at last, Anderson has made a film that is nothing but a succession of autumn-gold shoebox dioramas.” 3/5 Stars, Stephanie Zacharek – “There’s so much to look at, and to giggle over, in “Fantastic Mr. Fox”: It has style and wit and heart, without ever being overly whimsical, a trap Anderson has too often fallen into.”

New York Press, Armond White – “Fantastic Mr.Fox affords a refined, witty, recognition of the processes that convert fantasy into art.”

Slant, Nick Schager – “Given its canny beauty and quick wit, Fantastic Mr. Fox seems primed to also burrow into issues of self, uniqueness, and community as dexterously as Mr. Fox and his clan dig holes, yet Anderson prizes the funny over the profound to an extent that keeps the proceedings a tad too light and jovial to register as anything more than a lightweight aside to his more acute, earnest work.” 3/4 Stars

Associated Press, Dave Germain – “The wisecracks in Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach’s screenplay often are hilarious, as is the slang the animals use to cuss like sailors.”

Cinematical, Todd Gilchrist – “[T]he director doesn’t merely assemble and all-star cast, he creates an all-Anderson one, maximizing the impact of each contributor’s personality in a way that seems too seldom employed in animated films.”

Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan – “The painstaking process known as stop-motion animation has brought all kinds of things to life, from that big ape King Kong to the very British Wallace and Gromit, but in the playful and funny “Fantastic Mr. Fox” it goes those feats one better: It reanimates filmmaker Wes Anderson’s career.”

New York Daily News, Elizabeth Weitzman – “Few children’s authors have refused to talk down to their audience as resolutely as Roald Dahl. So it’s no surprise, and perhaps a relief, that Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is just as likely to appeal to adults.” 4/5 Stars

7 Replies to “Fantastic Mr. Fox Reviews”

  1. Hopefully with Mr. Fox the critical community makes up for so badly short-changing Darjeeling.

    How Little Miss Sunshine and Juno win Oscars for writing in consecutive years and Darjeeling can’t even earn a nomination is beyond me.

    It’s like, “We love Wes Anderson movies, but only when it’s not Wes Anderson making them.”

  2. The Royal Tenenbaums did get a screenplay nomination.

    The only group more prestigous than the group of films that get nominated for Oscars is the group that doesn’t.

  3. I know that Tenenbaums got one.

    I also agree with your sentiment. I’m just pointing out how blind the critical establishment can be, sometimes, and how badly they can endanger the future success of those filmmakers who rely on them. Movies like Darjeeling (and Juno and Little Miss Sunshine) get by on strong reviews and awards nominations, and if it falls through the cracks, there’s a danger its director won’t be able to do whatever he wants next time out.

  4. You forgot to mention that:
    The New Yorker
    (director: Wes Anderson; 2009)
    by Richard Brody
    NOVEMBER 16, 2009

    Anderson, Wes; “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
    For his stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book—about a fox who steals from three grotesque farmers, who go to absurd lengths to capture him as he leads his family and friends on increasingly desperate adventures in order to survive—the director Wes Anderson, co-writing the script with Noah Baumbach, greatly amplified the story and its emotional spectrum. Mr. and Mrs. Fox (voiced by George Clooney and Meryl Streep)—he’s a journalist, she’s an artist—bring to life a view of marriage that’s as bittersweet and insightful as that of any recent live-action movie, and their idiosyncratic son (Jason Schwartzman) is set up in a touching rivalry with his cousin (Eric Anderson, the director’s brother). Visually, the movie is a wonder, with its profusion of detail and exquisitely focussed “performances” by the figurines, whom Anderson frames in images as precisely composed as those featuring actors in his live-action work. The voice performances are sparkling and apt; the adventure plot is realized with a scenographic splendor that’s as understated as it is dazzling, and is also invested with a surprising moral weight. Though the emotional realms—and the philosophical twists—that Anderson evokes are unusually sophisticated for a children’s film, its exuberance is a universal tonic.

    Read more:

  5. “I think luckily there are enough people within the studio system that believe in Wes enough to finance his films.”

    I hope so. But it may be somewhat telling that, after Darjeeling, Anderson for the first time in his career signed on to work on a studio-owned “in development” project, ‘My Best Friend’. Not that this is even necessarily a bad thing (I think the movie could be interesting), and maybe the observation is a little specious, but, still…

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