Wes Anderson’s stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” kicks off the Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival tonight and according to Variety’s Todd McCarthy it’s “as recognizably a Wes Anderson film as any of his previous features. Roald Dahl’s 1970 children’s favorite about a fox clan and friends eluding human predators has been transformed into a tale of odd family dynamics stemming from the behavior of an eccentric patriarch. The film’s style, paradoxically both precious and rough-hewn, positions this as the season’s defiantly anti-CGI toon, and its retro charms will likely appeal more strongly to grown-ups than to moppets; it’s a picture for people who would rather drive a 1953 Jaguar XK 120 than a new one.”
“Wes Anderson gets his eccentric groove back on with a witty and likeable movie for little kids and their hip older siblings,” reports the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw. “It’s a demi-Americanised, wholly Andersonised version of the 1970 Roald Dahl children’s tale Fantastic Mr Fox, all about an elegant furry rapscallion pulling off the chicken-chomping crime of the century against three apoplectic farmers. In a world where kids’ movies are generally presented in hi-tech 3D digital wonderment, Anderson defiantly presents his one in old-school stop-motion animation, making it look like something by Oliver Postgate or Jan Svankmajer.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Sheri Linden: “The screenplay sometimes overdoes the winking asides, and the film doesn’t so much flow as jump from one set piece to the next. But with animation director Mark Gustafson, DP Tristan Oliver and production designer Nelson Lowry, Anderson has created a world as stylized and inventive as anything he’s done. From the fox-red glow of a morning idyll to the noirish gutter scene where one character meets his end to the icy fluorescent glare of the film’s closing scene — happy but not without compromise — ‘Fox’ is a visual delight.”
“‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ has a gently subversive edge that many mainstream animated features lack,” notes Geoffrey Macnab for The Independent. “It celebrates a hero in Mr. Fox who is a habitual thief. With all its imagery of furry creatures down holes, there is a mild erotic charge here too. The dialogue is smart and sassy enough to entertain the adults. Kids should enjoy the antics of the younger foxes, Fox’s son Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman), desperate to emulate his feats, and his karate expert cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson). It is possible, though, that the film will prove too spiky and idiosyncratic for the mainstream audience that its producers clearly crave.”
indieWIRE will be on the scene at the film’s premiere in London tonight and have a full report.