9 Reasons Why Fantastic Mr. Fox is the Coolest Film
1) FMF shows how sly indie smarts can defy the corporate factory farm machine.
2) The film suggests there is a subversive affinity between artists and thieves. Somewhat like Godard and Truffaut in their youth, Mr. Fox is a chicken thief who has difficulty kicking the habit. Anderson inspires us by ripping off what inspires him, including allusions to Toy Story (a character trapped in a milk crate), The Third Man (the sewer sequence), The Man in the White Suit (Bean has an apple cider machine that makes the same noise that Alec Guinness'character's invention makes), Bonnie and Clyde (men with guns hiding in the bushes for an ambush), and West Side Story (Rat (Willem Dafoe) snaps his fingers in a way reminiscent of the movie's choreography).
3) FMF juxtaposes the passionate instincts of the wild with Anderson's trademark cerebral creative control. Fox cannot help himself because of his wild nature. Late in the film, a wolf appears in the distance. Anderson keeps the wolf in an extreme long shot, and even though the wolf shares with Fox a paw pump of solidarity, the wildest creature stays aloof, separate, and by implication superior to the rest of the animals who have to find ways to accommodate humanity.
4) In every shot, FMF celebrates the detail. Mr. Fox has an impeccable fashion sense--thin ties and corduroy suits. Wes Anderson took photographs of all of the furniture in Roald Dahl's house, had miniature versions made, and scattered them throughout the movie. I found FMF annoying in its way, because so many ingenious details and inventive shot compositions demand a re-viewing. One feels obliged to play the film slowly on DVD and freeze-frame scenes to catch everything.
5) I'm not sure, but it seems that The Darjeeling Limited becomes part of a train set in FMF that consoles Kristofferson when he is blue.
6) FMF treats the difficulties of parenting and sibling self-esteem issues without being annoying.
7) FMF shares with Watership Down a concern with the way humans violate the land for petty reasons.
8) FMF celebrates the moment. Anderson makes sure to add some unexpected flourish to every scene. Even in the midst of an action scene, he will pause to show how Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky), Mr. Fox's dim but loyal possum sidekick, did have "blueberries" written on his paw, even though he forgot to bring them. We also learn, again in the midst of an exciting sequence, that Kylie's good about paying off his debts, thereby earning a nice credit card. After the rat dies, the gang has a poignant moment, thinking that the rat did redeem himself, but then Mr. Fox says with metaphysical aplomb, "At the end of the day, he's still just a dead rat in a garbage pail behind a Chinese restaurant."
9) Sly, conniving, resourceful, devious--what creature is cooler than a fox? Just as Mr. Fox and his gang elude the evil farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, so does Fantastic Mr. Fox eludes the viewer's attempt to apprehend it. I've never seen such an intellectually engrossing children's movie.