Today is Roald Dahl Day and so I have been informed by my Into Film wall calendar that I should watch Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I have just done. I must have read the book as a child, seeing as Roald Dahl was a popular author, but this is my first time watching the 2009 film adaptation. Be aware this contains spoilers for the film and therefore the book.
I wasn’t 100% sure what was going on at first: two foxes, one of them ill, going to steal a chicken and then getting caught. The abrupt pregnancy announcement definitely had its comedic effect and I was very glad that they revisited that at the end of the film. However, I was very confused over how they might have escaped such a dire situation (although as with the rest of the film, it was probably by digging!)
Dahl’s story perfectly mixes the fantasy world of the fox with real world themes of family relationships. I found his son insufferably annoying for most of the film but my opinion mellowed as I saw the struggle he had to connect to his dad and how he felt insufficient, especially in comparison with his cousin. This emphasises how much the book is written both to entertain but also reassure and educate the child reader about situations they might be facing.
I enjoyed the short length of the film, although it did require a lot of concentration to understand exactly what was happening. The villainous Bean (not at all like the one I actually know) was magnificently portrayed by Michael Gambon and he was a perfect fit for the character. The narrative is clearly framed to make the viewer root for the animals against the human foe, and another hilarious moment was the men running around extremely flustered whilst being chased by a rabid dog. Trust me, it makes sense in the film.
Mr. Fox himself was a character I actually found rather obnoxious. He was determined to get his own way, despite how it might affect his wife and family; he was cocky; he ignored his own son; he appointed himself as a leader; and put his entire community in danger and then magically justified himself and became the hero. Yes, he is quick-thinking and did a lot of good things, but they don’t quite make up for him getting everyone into the mess in the first place.
A funny, family film that is enjoyable for all ages, with a moral centre and a star-studded cast. Three stars.
The next day of my Into Film Project will be tomorrow (14th) when I will be reviewing Easy A for Sexual Health Week.