Criterion ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ Blu-ray Review – Entertainment Focus
Only Wes Anderson would look at a lovely little children’s book about a clever fox outwitting farmers to steal food, and think, “You know what’s missing… a big slice of existential boredom.” Oh, and the fox should be having a midlife crisis. It shouldn’t work, but the combination of Dahl’s wit, Anderson’s wry voice and exquisite stop-motion art on display makes “Fantastic Mr. Fox” an absolute delight.
With a star voice cast including George Clooney as Mr. Fox, Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox and Wes Anderson regulars Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon and Owen Wilson, ” Fantastic Mr. Fox “received a stellar release by Criterion. For those who matter, that’s now eight of the ten Anderson films currently in the collection, and one of them (The French Dispatch) has just been released in theaters. It’s surely only a matter of time before ‘Isle of Dogs’ its only other foray into animation is added to the label.
Anyway, back to the fox. Those familiar with the book will know that it involves Mr. Fox hatching a clever plan to steal food from under the noses of three cruel farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean. It’s really just a short story, so Anderson puts that plotline in the middle of his film, then fleshed it out into a feature film with his own additions to the narrative.
In this version, Mr. Fox was a savage, dapper farmer raider, who lived for adventure and danger. Then, when he found out his wife had a baby, he traded in her wild ways for a mundane and respectable life. The years go by, and he wants a bigger house for his family, he wants to give them better things, but in order to do that he is going to have to go back to his old ways, which makes the three farmers angry. , and subsequently endanger the lives of all woodland creatures living near farms.
Anderson’s screenplay, co-written with Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story, The Squid and the Whale) is hilarious and insightful, and the vocal performances are sensational. Jason Schwartzman especially as a son with an inferiority complex, and his subplot of rivalry with his perfect cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson) is a real highlight.
Reframing this beloved story was a risky move. Reinforcing it with adult thematic concerns was even riskier. But while this is undoubtedly a Wes Anderson joint, the balance is perfect and it remains an absolutely delicious children’s movie. Bursting with imagination and clever visual details, superb needle drops and a fabulous score by Alexandre Desplat, this is an irresistible work. Put on your bandit hat and make a master plan to watch this mind-boggling edition of “Fantastic Mr Fox”.
Just like with ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, this is another nice deluxe version of Criterion, packed with extra features. The first is an audio commentary with Wes Anderson from 2013. You can also watch the movie with a short animated introduction by Petey, the farmer character voiced by Jarvis Cocker.
You can also watch the animatic version of the movie, which is the audio and soundtrack on the animated storyboards. The centerpiece of the bonus content is a seven part program that describes the behind the scenes of the making of the film. This collection of reports focuses on voice recording, puppet testing, the art department, the work they did in the studio, the use of time-lapse photography, music, and miniatures. The voice recording sequences are a lot of fun, mixing traditional studio work with more lo-fi activity captured on a farm, with Clooney running around with a soundman.
Next on the disc is an audio recording of Roald Dahl reading the book. This is followed by some short, lively award speeches and press releases which are quite cute. There is also an excellent selection of still photographs from the set. As with the release of “The Darjeeling Limited” which included an Amex commercial produced by Anderson, this disc is accompanied by its advertisement for the Sony Xperia 2021.
There are more traditional press kits, on the making of the film, with interviews with all of the main cast and crew, as well as members of the Dahl family. The next step is a discussion and analysis of the film, which is a fun little feature as it uses the typical Criterion format of a talkie specialist of the film, but since it is a children’s film (sort of. so), he has two children who talk to him instead.
The record ends with a few lines more centered on Roald Dahl. First, “Fantastic Mr. Dahl”, a one hour BBC documentary from the Imagine series, dedicated to the legendary children’s author. Witch’s Tree is a short clip of Dahl talking about an old tree on his land from where he told the original Fantastic Mr. Fox story to his children. Finally, there is a gallery of pages from the book’s manuscript, including its original sketches.
To throw: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon Director: Wes anderson Writer: Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach Produced by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Certificate: PG Duration: 87 minutes Release date: November 1, 2021