by Claire Ramsey
Mrs. Fox said it all: “My husband is a fantastic fox!”
I waited for that line throughout the movie (it occurs several times in the book) and I was not disappointed.
Nor was I disappointed in the movie. The only people who might be disappointed are: Roald Dahl purists, protective parents, and Mr. Boggis, Mr. Bunce, and Mr. Bean.
To purists: this movie is clearly and upfront “based on” Roald Dahl’s work. If you want a literal translation of this story to film, complete with stills from the book, I am sure Weston Woods has one somewhere, still in its little plastic filmstrip case. Personally, I will read the book again when I want the original story… This film is a fantastic film.
To parents: despite the fact that this is a Disney movie, stop-motion animated, and an animal story based on one of Roald Dahl’s less edgy works… THIS IS NOT A CHILDREN’S MOVIE. If you object to “positive role model” characters like Mr. Fox drinking, stealing, and cussing (literally — all instances where the “F” word would fit are replaced by the word “cuss”), then this is not the evening’s entertainment for you. It is, however, a natural for teens. I am sure Hot Topic already has fantastic Fantastic Mr. Fox merchandise. (Well, no — I checked — but they should!.)
A few things I, as an ex-librarian, enjoyed:
1. This movie is the answer to kids’ innocence regarding where food comes from (clue: it’s not only the store, kids!) Follow the fantastic food from the farm…
2. All of my favorite sayings and characters from the book made it into the movie, especially the jingle about Messrs. Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, and the character of Rat. (Ratty, Badger, and Mole… hmm, maybe they’ll do Wind in the Willows next…)
3. The scientific names of most of the underground creatures are given, charmingly.
4. The film tends to follow the story’s chapters, though it adds a couple at beginning and end.
A couple fun story additions to watch for:
1. the Whack-Bat game (cricket, somewhat weakly disguised…)
2. the oh-so-cool-but-what-was-it-doing-there appearance of the wolf near the story’s end…
3. the replacement of the three little fox children into one fox child, one fox cousin, and one foxy friend (but maybe more fox children will be coming along…)
And finally, to Mr. Boggis, Mr. Bunce, and Mr. Bean: keep on waiting at Mr. Fox’s hole — I am sure he will eventually come out (in, say, fifty fantastic fox years.) Once more, this film is a fantastic film, and Mrs. Fox’s husband is a fantastic fox!