Monday, 2 November 2009
Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)
I found this more charming than I had anticipated. Lily said: 'it's good, but why did they have to different-it from the book?' A good question, actually.
There's something distantly unnerving about the way all the native English animals are deadpanning wisecracking Americans, but the humans all have English accents. Plus, looking back on a slight but pronounced sense of nark I felt whilst watching it, I realise that I've been innoculated against the fiction that a feckless, con-man, charismatic, fantasist Dad can ever be, in any way, a good thing from the kids' point of view by reading, oh I don't know, just about every story about such a character, from John Le Carré on. This film, by peddling its 'fantastic' angle straight, and getting George Clooney to purr the lines in his best come-on voice, ends up in a pretty solidly mendacious place, actually. Which is a shame, because a Willy Loman take on the 'fantastic' element of the title might have made a more interesting picture.
Other than that: it's visually very attractive indeed. Some of the left-field humour is nicely done; I liked Kylie the Oppossum, and especially his swirly eye moments; and I laughed at the Jarvis Cocker onscreen rebuke. Then again, I have a high tolerance for left-field humour. And, actually, only about a tenth of this film's field is left. A quarter is way over to the right (the poisonous pseudo-babble about how being 'different' is good, 'different' here meaning 'mildly eccentric mannerisms'; the reactionary class narrative inherent in this fable of a bunch of lawyers, pediatricians, landscape painters and journalists as the victims, no really, of three farmers with grating, parvenu-y, estuary accents -- or the wincing, self-serving material about how these bourgeois popinjays actually embody a 'wild animal' nature). But the rest -- what is that, 65%? -- is solidly in the middle, and neither offensive nor brilliant, merely entertaining.