As with most Wes Anderson films, I didn’t really like 2009’s Fantastic Mr Fox when I first saw it, but I have come to appreciate it more with subsequent viewings.
Still, while it often takes multiple viewings for me to ‘get’ most of Wes Anderson’s output, I generally don’t hate them initially with the level of vitriol I had for this movie.
The problem with this animated feature is that it’s an adaptation of one of my favourite childhood books, penned by non-other than the peerless Roald Dahl. I loved everything Dahl when I was a child and frankly, aside from Matilda and The BFG, Fantastic Mr Fox might well have been my favourite. So I was really looking forward to seeing this when it first came out. And I left the cinema seething.
Because, although there are clearly elements of the novel within the movie, this is really only loosely based on the source material and is, in essence, very much a Wes Anderson film.
And if you go into the experience expecting to see a Wes Anderson film, then it’s a pretty good Wes Anderson film. But if you go into the experience expecting to see a faithful adaptation of a beloved children’s classic, you won’t get what you want.
I have seen this since that initial disappointment and, on it’s own terms, I can enjoy this movie. It’s actually rather charming and if I hadn’t loved the book so much I’d have had no problem with this adaptation.
But I did love it and, as good as this movie objectively might be, I will always still hate it a little bit.
Score for Christmasishness
In some corners of the internet, this does make the cut for some people’s Christmas(ish) movies. They don’t use the term Christmas(ish) (because that is my specially coined terminology for whatever this is) but they mean the same thing. It all seems to hinge on the scene where the animals enjoy a feast. And I’ll concede it does look like a rather festive gathering. But Christmas is never directly referenced. Later in the movie we also see a box of tinsel. But as the tinsel is in a box and not festooned on a tree, it might be reasonable to surmise that the tinsel is in storage and that it isn’t yet Christmas at all. But this is an animated film about foxes so you can still watch it at Christmas if you like.