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“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Fantastic Mr. Fox is fantastic indeed! It seems like 2009 is the year of visionary directors making classic children’s books into amazing feature films. First with Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic “Where the Wild Thing Are,” and now Wes Anderson’s outstanding rendition of Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” I can’t wait to see Steven Soderbergh’s “Goodnight Moon.”

In the film, when Mr. Fox finds out he’s about to have a family, he is forced to give up his wild ways of chicken coop raiding. Then, one day when Mr. Fox decides to buy the family a new home inside a tree on top of a hill, he is faced with the ultimate heist. Not one, not two, but three farms all ripe for the picking. How could Mr. Fox resist? So he decides to pull one last job… Well, three jobs. But, when things go south, and it’s not just Mr. Fox that has to pay the price. It also puts the whole animal community in danger.

Wes Anderson has really outdone himself. The decision to use stop-motion animation was absolutely brilliant! It totally adds to the look and feel of the film. Unlike most animated films, Anderson decided to record the cast’s vocal tracks on location, and not in a sound booth. So, if the scene takes place in a field, actors George Clooney and Meryl Streep recorded their vocal tracks together in an actual field. It may not sound like a big deal, but that’s unheard of! Most actors working on animated film don’t even meet each other until the premiere. I can’t wait to see the DVD footage of the actors in character, playing out a scene on the countryside somewhere. George Clooney is brilliant as always, and Meryl Streep is a perfect addition to the Wes Anderson family. I really hope he uses her in a live action film someday. But, I’ve got to say, Jason Schwartzman really steals the show as Mr. Fox’s son Ash. And, you have to love Wes’ eye for detail. At the end of the film, and I’m not giving anything anyway, Ash is drinking a grape juice-box while everyone else is drinking apple. It’s the little things like this that make him one of my favorite directors. The best part of this film is that even though it’s an adaptation of a children’s book, it’s still very much a Wes Anderson movie. It’s true to its source material, but still has the dialog and everything you would come to expect from a Wes Anderson movie. And, unlike Where the Wild This Are, Fantastic Mr. Fox can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. What the cuss else do you want me to say? Go see this cussin’ movie! Cuss!

Rating:


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“Where the Wild Things Are”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Hands down one of my favorite books as a kid, right up there with The Digging-Est Dog, Where the Wild Things Are, was most likely an iconic children’s book for most of our childhoods. I remember just staring at Maurice Sendak’s illustrations of Max and his monster friends for hours on end. So, imagine my excitement when I heard that visionary director Spike Jonze and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop were going to bring that beloved book to life on the big screen.
In Where the Wild Things Are, we follow the journey of Max, an 8 year old boy, trying to find his place in the world. His teenage sister is starting to hangout with friends of her own, and his single Mom is starting to date again, leaving little time for them to play with Max. Until one night, when Max puts on his beloved wolf costume to cause a little mischief and ends up running away from home. When he stumbles upon a small boat, he sets sail, and soon finds himself on an island of monsters. On the island the monsters make him king, and they play and howl at the moon together; but Max quickly learns that one can never truly run away from one’s problems.
Spike Jonze does an amazing job of fleshing out Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book. In this film, he also captures the raw feeling and imagination of being a child. The other thing I realized he managed to do was give the film the feel of a children’s movie from our generation. You know, it didn’t feel like a modern movie for kids. It had me thinking of the kid movies I grew up with, like The Red Balloon and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. With that being said, I don’t think that this movie with its lack of narrative will hold the attention of kids today. I think this movie is only going to truly appeal to our generation. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop has once again out done themselves. The use of mixing real life puppets with CGI effects, has clearly laid a new path for the future of special effects. I would like to think that his company, being the driving force behind bringing these classic illustrations to life, would have made Jim Henson very proud. The bottom line is, if you’re thirty years old or older, you are going to love this movie. But, if this is the first time you have ever heard of Where the Wild Things Are, you might find yourselves a little bit lost on what makes it so great.

Rating:
4.5 Little People