Wait, Is Fantastic Mr. Fox The Best Movie Of 2009?
I finally saw it over the long holiday weekend, and boy did I love it! After all of the weird press about what a nightmare Wes Anderson was during the filming process–the general idea being that he mostly directed the movie from his Paris apartment by SEXTing the animators in England–and also that New Yorker article that was so fawning it kind of made you want to puke (the inevitable pukelash) for how much Richard Brody wants to be Wes Anderson’s boyfriend and kiss him on his recherche mouth, it turned out that nevertheless this movie is so so good. Just a joy to watch from beginning to end.
Here are some reasons that it might be the best movie of the whole year:
For one thing, it was visually delightful! For all of the efforts made this year to bring the charm and joy (and also terror, for some reason) of being a child to the movies (Where the Wild Things Are, Coraline, etc) this one seems to me to be the one that actually succeeds. It feels like a diorama, or a particularly fevered Sunday afternoon art project on the living room rug. Obviously, that is not the case. Very talented, professional adults made this movie! But it is exactly that blend between hand-crafted borderline-amateurishness and impeccable high-art that makes it so enjoyable to look at.
Then there is the story. It is simple and for children, but it also is fun, and layered, and even has some excitement in it! There are actual stakes involved! Plus the characters are complicated and not always lovable, but they are doing their best, just like how human beings are and do. Children yearn for their parents’ love, parents yearn for their youthful vigor, and there is lots of dancing. Dancing is great! The humor is gentle and smart and sophisticated. It is a movie with its heart carefully rendered in scale and then sewn with golden thread to its corduroy sleeve.
But probably the thing that makes the movie so great are all of the slight touches, and this is a movie built out of slight touches. Wes Anderson’s fussy and sometimes overly-precious style works perfectly in a movie whose painstaking and time-consuming physical process demands that things be fussy and precious. So Fantastic Mr. Fox listens to his tiny walkman, and Jason Schwartzman makes his own bandit hat out of a sweat sock when no one will give him a real bandit hat, and I already mentioned the dancing, but there’s lots of dancing, and signature moves, and a couple of moving toasts. This movie has got it all!
I know that Fantastic Mr. Fox has been out for a little while now, but I’m sure some people have not seen it who should totally go see it, and I have not read very much about how great it is. Why aren’t more people talking about this? You guys are being weird about Fantastic Mr. Fox. Go see it! Maybe you will hate it, but probably not. Not if you know what you are talking about. And if you haven’t voted yet, now’s your chance!
Team Fantastic Mr. Fox!