By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin December 12, 2009 at 2:45AM
Simplicity is not a quality most Hollywood moviemakers aspire to achieve, but for me it’s part of the charm of Fantastic Mr. Fox, an amusing, low-key fable that strikes a tone unlike any other animated film this year. There’s nothing simple about the technique of...
stop-motion animation, which requires such exacting work by so many people, but the end result (in this case) is endearingly childlike and great fun to watch. What’s more, the story, adapted from Roald Dahl’s book by director Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, is elemental—and disarming. It’s all about a fox (voiced by George Clooney) who tries to change his ways for the sake of his wife (Meryl Streep) and family, but reverts to old chicken-stealing habits—because that’s his nature. Naturally, Anderson and Baumbach have added distinctively dry, offbeat touches to their narrative and characterizations—there’s no way this could be mistaken for a mainstream studio project—but that’s all to the good.
Ingenious design, great voice work, perfect timing, and an engaging, countrified music score by Alexandre Desplat (of all people) combine to make Fantastic Mr. Fox a thoroughly enjoyable experience. And if the human villains remind you animation buffs of characters from the Will Vinton universe, bear in mind that this film’s animation director, Mark Gustafson, worked at the Vinton studio for a number of years.