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PCR #506 (Vol. 10, No. 49). This edition is for the week of November 30--December 6, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Fantastic Mr. Fox"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"The Fantastic Mr. Fox"  by Mike Smith
Eulogy for A Wizard  by William Moriaty
Time Warp Toy Box ’09 – Part 1  by ED Tucker
A 10-Year Look Back at the Godzilla 2000 Premiere  by Jason Fetters
Sneaker Head Sunday @ Club Skye  by John Miller
Questions About The Ufl .... Bucs Coach Fires Another Coach .... Tiger Woods Shocker! .... .... Charlie Weis Fired! .... Bobby Bowden Forced Out .... Allen Iverson Signs With The 76ers .... Nolan And Ladders  by Chris Munger
Hypocrite .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2  by Mike Smith
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20th Century Fox     
Starring: The Voices of: George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Rated: PG
Running Time: 1 hour 27 mins

Wes Anderson is known for some pretty unusual movies. Films like “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tannenbaums” presented life with just a slightly askewed view. Which makes him a perfect filmmaker to adapt the Roald Dahl novel “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

Mr. Fox (Clooney) is a columnist for a local newspaper. Tired of living in a hole he has just moved his family into a lovely new tree apartment. But he’s not happy. He once was the most admired animal in the land, whose athletic prowess knew no bounds. Two years ago (twelve Fox-years) he and Mrs. Fox (Streep) found themselves caught in a trap after raiding a local chicken farm. Mr. Fox vowed then and there that if they were able to escape he would never raid another farm. Which is why he’s now a columnist who wonders aloud if anyone even reads his work (which, take it from me, is something we all do). He also wonders why their son, Ash (Jason Schwartzman) insists on wearing a cape. Tired of his boring life, Mr. Fox decides to embark on one more great caper: he will raid the three biggest farms in the area and reclaim his fame.

Presented in old fashioned stop motion photography (more “Davey and Goliath” then “The Nightmare Before Christmas”), “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” is an entertaining story that succeeds because of the talent behind it, led by Clooney and his band of actors. Rather than have the actors record their lines in a studio alone, as many animated filmmakers do, Anderson assembled his cast (with the exception of Streep, who was unavailable at the time) in a real farm house and had them interact in real locations. This gives the vocals a more “authentic” sound. When Mr. Fox and Ash have a discussion inside their tree, they sound like they ARE inside a tree. In other words, you get one thing vocally that most animated films don’t deliver…atmosphere. The vocal cast is made up of many of Anderson film veterans, including Schwartzman, Murray and Owen Wilson, whose explanation (or attempted explanation) of the game of Whack Bat, is one of the films funnier scenes. Clooney and Streep are also perfectly matched and Willem Dafoe has fun as a double crossing rat. The stop motion animation fits the story perfectly. I don’t think the film would have worked as well had it been done in today’s computer generated style. And any film that can find room for both “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” and the Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” on the soundtrack has to be something special.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”

This week's movie review of "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.