Fantastic Mr. Fox

Based on the popular children's book of the same name by Roald Dahl ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and the Giant Peach"), screenwriter/director Wes Anderson ("Rushmore") has used stop-action figures to create an affecting story with particular emphasis on family dynamics.

The husband/wife team, voiced by George Clooney ("Men Who Stare at Goats") and Meryl Streep ("Mamma Mia!"), are an affectionate but real- istic couple trying to deal with their rebellious teenage son. This poor kid is a pale copy of his over-achieving dad and it only gets worse when his paragon of a cousin shows up. This new kid turns out to be the epitome of the perfect adolescent: Scholarly, obedient, athletic, considerate and courteous; plus he's an expert in Eastern thought and martial arts. Aarghhh!

Of course, our hero Mr. Fox, is a (semi-) reformed chicken thief who is having trouble denying his inner beast, so he talks his best friend, an opossum, into joining him for one last spree. (Sound familiar?)

I got a kick out of:
  • the opossum going into a pinwheel-eyed state of semi- consciousness when agitated;
  • the excellent facial expressions on the anthropomorphized characters;
  • the macho grandstanding done by our eponymous hero.

I was disappointed in Meryl Streep's Mrs. Fox. The script didn't give her much to work with, so it makes sense that there was nothing noteworthy in her work. Other Anderson regulars, e.g., Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, work with him again, and I was pleased that this project wasn't as eso- teric as some of his others: "The Darjeeling Limited" and "The Royal Tenenbaums."

The children in the audience seemed to stay involved in the story and the screening audience laughed right on cue at the generous servings of humor, particularly those focused on Mr. Fox's egotism. Clooney got that just right.