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 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Quackor the Fowl
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PostSubject: 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Mr. Fox   Sat Apr 10, 2010 7:53 pm

Hello again, it's Quackor, everyone's favorite duck/mod/critic hybrid thing, and I'm here to review 20th Century Fox's film, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

When I first saw the trailer for this film, I just thought it looked crappy. The film was in stop-motion, and it moved at an incredibly slow 12 frames per second. You could literally see the fur moving from the animators moving it to create the motions. So I skipped it in the theater. But when it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year's Oscars, I started to get interested. It wasn't until Easter when I finally got my hands on a copy of the film. I thought to myself as I finished the film, "Good god, why did I miss this in the theater?"

Story
The film is based on the book by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author Roald Dahl (and a bit of random trivia: I share the same birthday as him, on September 13). It takes place in an unspecified rural farm area, where the titular Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his wife, Felicity Fox (Meryl Streep) are masters at stealing game from farmers. After managing to steal a huge batch of squab (it's like chicken), Felicity announces something big to Mr. Fox: she's pregnant. Fast forward 12 fox-years (3 human years) where the Foxes have settled into a hole, living a normal family lifestyle with their new son Ash (Jason Shwartzman), who has fallen into a slump because nobody notices him. This slump becomes worse when cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson) comes to visit, who is better than Ash at, well, everything. Mr. Fox has quit the heisting business and started writing a newspaper column (which he doubts anyone reads). Soon, they decide to move to a new tree, and to pay off the debt from his lawyer, Beaver (Bill Murray), and to get more food on the table, Mr. Fox decides to perform one last big heist, aided by a minnow-loving woodchuck known as Kylie (Wally Wolodarsky), on the houses of the meanest farmers in the area: Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), Bunce (Hugo Guinness), and Bean (Michael Gambon). Mrs. Fox soon gets suspicious of how the number of fried chicken begins to multiply, and soon after she and the rest of the animals get thrown into the fray.

I liked how the animal characters are given American actors, and the farmers and other humans are given British actors, to give a bit of a contrast between the two. Overall, the story is solid and very touching, poignant, and gripping.

And I might as well mention the best part of the writing: instead of using any foul language, every, and I mean every, possible swear word that could be used is replaced by the word "cuss". It leads into lines such as, "Are you cussing me?!", "You sure as cuss can't", and my favorite, "It'll become one big clustercuss." And it's hilarious.
Story Overall: 8/10

Animation
Remember when I said the animation was at a slow 12 frames per second? Well, that's actually part of its charm. Each of the different puppet stop-motion characters are actually pretty well-crafted, and animate nice.

The neat thing about the film is its color scheme: 80% is done in fall shades, with yellow, red, orange and brown. It gives it a bit of old-school charm. In fact, when Kristofferson first arrives to the Fox residence, his colors are bright blue and silver, to signify the fact that he's different and not one of the Fox family. It also makes it more jarring when we see the residences of Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, which are more dark, gray, and mechanical, to show that they're completely different from the animals. Subtle, but noticeable stuff that adds to the good fun of the film.
Animation Overall: 9/10

Music
The music isn't as big or epic as the films in my last two reviews, Up and How To Train Your Dragon, but it's still worth a listen. The music is more quiet, and adds with the autumn coloration to give the film a sort of timeless, homey feel. There's a lot of banjo picking and guitars, such as in "American Empirical Pictures" and "Mr. Fox In the Fields", but some tracks are actually pretty epic in a sort of quiet sense as well, such as "Stunt Expo 2004". The soundtrack also has songs from the Beach Boys and Burl Ives (famous for singing songs from most Rankin/Bass animated Christmas specials), which also add to the film more than a piece of, say, hard rock, would.
Music Overall: 9.5/10

I was honestly surprised at how good this film was. It's quirky, it's gripping, it's humorous, and it's moderately sepia-toned. The film feels like it would still be good at least twenty years from now. I'll end the review with this comment: I cussing loved it.

Overall: 9.75/10

Buy, Rent, or Skip?: Buy

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PostSubject: Good cussing review.   Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:43 pm

Sounds interesting. I'm a huge fan of stop motion animation (did some claymation back in the day), so I'll definitely look into it.

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