When I saw the trailer for Fantastic Mr. Fox my initial reaction was “Wow, that’s pretty bad animation!” This was quite unfair.
My reaction was based on an unconscious assumption that this was an example of computer-generated animation, the approach used in most animated movies today. In fact, if you are an animation fan Fantastic Mr. Fox may be worth seeing because it may well be the last major motion picture ever made using the much older technique of stop-motion animation. The sad fact is that today’s computer technology can create a very similar look with more realistic motion, all at a much lower cost.
Once I made allowances for the fact that I was watching stop-motion I had to admit that this movie is technically very impressive. I shudder to think of the amount of effort that must have gone into it. It looks really good. Some of the effects, especially the wet fur, could not easily be duplicated using today’s computers.
As a story it is less impressive. The plot is basically the same as a Bugs Bunny cartoon, though longer, more sophisticated and much less funny. The humor may be a bit subtler, but it never rises above the level of being mildly amusing.
Mr. Fox (George Clooney) is a reformed chicken thief who long ago settled down to a mundane life as a newspaper columnist. However when he buys a treehouse overlooking the town’s 3 richest farms (owned by the 3 meanest farmers) he can’t resist the temptation to return to a life of crime.
The farmers, naturally enough, respond by trying to kill Mr. Fox and his animal friends. Of course we all agree that it is perfectly dreadful for farmers to try to kill wild animals that are killing their livestock and stealing their produce–at least when said wild animals wear clothes, read newspapers and have midlife crises. They almost succeed, but as expected the wily Mr. Fox has the last laugh.