Fantastic Mr. Fox presents a world and characters in miniature, and that minute detail makes it an abstract joy on the big screen. Wes Anderson's take on Roald Dahl's children's classic isn't as polished as the stop-motion in Corpse Bride or Coraline. Its distinctly jittery retro-style of furry dolls brought to life is the perfect channel for Anderson's obsessions.
Like Spike Jonze in Where the Wild Things Are, Anderson internalized this childhood story until it became deeply personal. Mr. Fox (voice of George Clooney), moves his wife Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep), son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and animal hanger-ons deep underground when three farmers have declared them a menace. Ash's effort to win his father's approval repackages the father-son interplay in The Life Aquatic. And the film's easygoing humour (the audience I saw it with laughed throughout, although in Anderson movie tradition, rarely at the same jokes) drops clever inter-titles and allows everyone redemption. Visiting nephew Kristofferson, Ash's social and athletic nemesis, disarms his cousin's badger-tormentor with, "Are you a bully?"
In Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson's usual optimistic take on family dysfunction is complimented with a whimsical visual reality. Its inclusive worldview only asks that you accept its strangeness.