My love affair with Mr. Wes Anderson began when, in a fit of insomnia that plagued my early high school, I watched The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. As far as I can see, Anderson is best watched in a dream-like state because if you aren’t there already, he will slowly nudge you until his oddly juxtaposed orchestration of a sixties pop song and denouement in the film finally lulls you completely in the fantasy worlds that he creates.
And creates he does in his new film Fantastic Mr. Fox. This movie is basically Life Aquatic, Tenenbaums, Ocean’s 11 and Old Mother West Wind stories put together.
Once again Anderson focuses on what he does best and doesn’t stray too much. At the center, a dysfunctional, albeit loving, family with a disillusioned patriarch who has seen better days. But in animation maybe Anderson had found the entry point to the mainstream that big name stars haven’t been to give him.
In Fox, Anderson still has the wit and subversiveness that 20-somethings and up love, but the story of a child being misunderstood by his father would resonate with anyone one 12 and under.
Still even the patriarch is slightly more lovable than the abusive Royal Tenenbaum or distant Steve Zissou. That may be, of course, because Mr. Fox, is a fox. And fact: furry animals are just more lovable.
So the acid tongued wife and sassy adolescent get away with unlikeable nature that would be off putting in a children’s movie, but perfect in an Anderson movie, simply because their red fur and awkwardly gangly legs that remind the viewer of Anderson’s skinny chicken legs, are so darn cute.
With everyone Anderson archetype filled by his regulars of over-the-top actors, Fantastic Mr. Fox may be his first non live-action film, but I believe Mr. Anderson could find a long career in children’s movies. For the past decade he’s been making movies for adults for the neglected child within. I wish he would continue to work with Roald Dahl books because this is by far the best adaptation I’ve seen.