I’ve been slacking off on my doll blogging over the past several months–so it occurred to me that a certain stop-action animated movie I saw recently might qualify as a doll post!
I saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox last weekend. Wes Anderson has become a successful director because he shares and manipulates baby boomers’ and Gen Xers’ nostalgia for our childhood: the mid-century office technologies, the clothing that always looks like it’s right out of a Goodwill grab bag ca. 1963-1979, the self-conscious references to things that appealed to children in the 1960s and 1970s (Jacques Cousteau and Davy Crockett, for example. Pass the Space Food Sticks and Tang!) If you’re in your mid-30s to your mid-50s, Anderson is like a very clever kid brother who missed out on all of the fun you had during your late midcentury childhood, and who’s getting rich selling it back to you in idealized dreamscape slices.
As to the movie itself: the animation is clever and fascinatingly detailed, but it’s just not that interesting or compelling a story. I heard an interview of Anderson on Fresh Air a few weeks ago, in which he confessed that The Fantastic Mr. Fox was the first book he remembers being his book as a child. That’s sweet–but it’s not a good enough excuse to make a movie out of it. Owen Wilson has a funny cameo explaining the game of Whackbat–that was worthwhile, as was the portrayal of sibling-like rivalry between Mr. and Mrs. Fox’s son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and his cousin, Kristofferson (Anderson’s own brother, Eric.) It seemed like an animated animal version of The Royal Tennenbaums, starring wild animals.
Anderson needs to find another subject than rivalries and jealousies among brothers. Seriously–sibling rivalry may be an endlessly renewable resource, but it’s just not all that interesting after four or five movies.