Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Since it is Oscar time and since the overlap of films I've seen, films I've enjoyed, and films that are going to be taking home the prize tonight is vanishingly small, I would just like to remind myself how much fun one particular movie was.

I really loved Fantastic Mr. Fox

Before I dive into the film, I want to consider another of Dahl's books, a book described by a genuine critic* as "a festival of bad taste that is at heart so innocent that we soon forgive it and enjoy ourselves." My Uncle Oswald is unlikely to be spawning KidzMeal toys. I love it.

I'd like to recommend it to you all, but honestly My Uncle Oswald is a book that ought to come in a brown paper wrapper and ought never to be read by anyone—or at least not anyone who hasn't previously been ruint by reading. When I read it, I was already thoroughly corrupt, so no harm done. When you do read it, it's fun to consider which luminaries ought to be booted off the "donor" list and who ought to replace them. 

I mention this particular book, certainly one of the more neglected of his works,  because it represents to me the author's slightly askew but always illuminating work. When I read that book, I knew who wrote it.

Sometimes books turn into pretty thin soup when they are made into movies. I was a little afraid that it might happen with to Mr. Fox. It didn't. Anyone who loves Dahl's books can see the film, I think, because it is made very much in the spirit of Mr. Dahl.

There are plenty of family films out there, but not enough with mud and spit and electrocution and hard cider. 

So here are some of the good bits according to me...

1) The animals in this film are wild animals--and they know it. Even when they are landscape painters or journalists or pediatricians, they know they are wild animals.

2) There is a great deal of cussing in the film. I enjoyed it immensely.

3) Latin nomenclature is deployed. Yay Linneaus!

4) "We're different...we all are...but there's something kind of wonderful about that."

* Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

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