After months of generating positively glowing buzz, Wes Anderson’s quirky stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr. Fox makes the big leap to the screen in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York today. Showcasing the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Michael Gambon, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, the movie will expand nationwide on November 25. The beautifully crafted Fox Searchlight movie has been delivering good numbers in the U.K., where it opened three weeks ago, brining in over $11 million in ticket sales.
Based on a novel by the late British writer Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches), this labor-intensive movie follows the adventures of a clever fox, who has to juggle his domestic family life with the need to steal poultry and battle vicious farmers. Anderson’s fondness for detail, set design and art direction, paired with fantastic animation direction by Mark Gustafson (The PJs, Mr. Resistor) give the film an irresistible sheen and storybook charisma. The pic also features excellent work by director of photography Tristan Oliver (Wallace & Gromit in Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Chicken Run) and production designer, Nelson Lowry (Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride). The bulk of the movie was shot at London’s Three Mills Studio, where the animators worked with several different sets of puppets (ranging from two-inches to 16 inches-tall).
Judging from the positive reviews the movie has generated, the film is on its way to nabbing one of the (hopefully) five coveted Best Animated Feature Oscar nominations of the year. The New York Times calls it Anderson’s ‘most fully realized and satisfying film,’ while L.A. Times’ Kenneth Turan notes that it ‘provides a pleasantly cerebral experience, exhilarating and fizzy, that goes to your head like too much Champagne!’ Over at Variety, Todd McCarthy writes, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox, which he has been hoping to make for many years, is in some ways his most fully realized and satisfying film.’
To give you an idea of how the movie ranks in the review scale, here is how some of the other widely released toons of the year performed on www.rottentomatoes.com, the site that compiles and averages out all the reviews a movie receives in the U.S. and the U.K.:
Fantastic Mr. Fox 91%
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 85%
Monsters vs. Aliens 72%
Disney’s A Christmas Carol 56%
Astro Boy 46%
To find out more about the movie, visit www.fantasticmrfoxmovie.com