Ever since the first trailer, I've been adamant that this movie was going to suck. But everyone and their dog's grandmother is going completely batshit for this movie. They praise the "animation", they praise Wes Anderson's direction, they praise the witty dialogue, they call it "touching" and "original".
IT IS NONE OF THESE THINGS!!
Perhaps in a different universe this movie is a solid gold piece of animation loveliness, but in this world, it is nothing more than an ugly, unlikeable pile of bullhonkey.
Let me back up a bit.
I wanted to give this movie a chance to prove my cynical little heart wrong. I really did. Growing up, I loved Road Dahl. I've read (and used to own) all his kid's books (Sidenote: when the hell are they gonna make a Charlie And the Great Glass Elevator movie?). Fantastic Mr. Fox was among them. It was a cute, clever little story about a professional chicken-thieving fox outwitting three very mean farmers and robbing them blind to save the forest from starving. Class act. I had no problems with it.
So when I heard that a movie was being made? I was excited. When I heard it was gonna be stop motion, I was DOUBLY excited. I have the proverbial raging hard-on for stop motion animation, from the old classics of Gumby and the David and Goliath shorts, to the Wallace & Gromits, and especially everything Henry Selick ever touched. It's one of my favorite artistic expressions. So this movie was going to be AWESOME.
Then I saw the trailer.
Once again, let me ask: WHAT THE *!#@ AM I MISSING HERE? everyone keeps saying how awesome the animation looks, how "retro" it is, how it's a callback to the "old styles", but to me, It's just UGLY! It's LAZY! and again, I'm a FAN of the older stop motion classics, I really am, but the first Wallace and Gromit is a MASTERPIECE compared to this atrocity!! It's jerky, it's jumpy, the characters are incapable of the simplest emotions, fur's jumping all over the place.... It is so painful to watch this unfold on the screen, BEGGING for someone to get in there and up the frame rate. Seriously, it looks like no one cared about it. Granted, some of the set pieces were cool, the look and feel of the human characters were a bit better, and I did think the way they showed smoke was clever (a nice throwback to Nightmare Before Christmas days), but on the whole, it's disgusting.
But, I thought, desperately trying to cling to that last shred of hope, maybe the writing and the story will be clever enough to pull me through!!
Weeeeell, in short: NO.
The plot's riddled with holes, there are little visual gags that add NOTHING to the story and aren't in any way clever or funny, the characters are one dimensional and bland, Mr. Fox himself is godawful and an ASSHOLE, the dialogue is some of the worst I've ever heard in animation, and they managed to rape everything quirky and distinctly British from just about every character! It is NOT a good sign when you start rooting for Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, but I was. You fail HARD, Mr. Anderson.
And in the end, what's the POINT of this ugly little tale? From what I could glean, there isn't one. It's ok to act like a jackass because you're a "wild animal"? It's ok to play favorites with your kids because you're a WILD ANIMAL?! It's ok to put those you love in terrible danger because you were too stupid to listen to good advice, BECAUSE YOU'RE A WILD ANIMAL!? excuse me, but last time I checked, that wasn't a good moral lesson for the kiddies. Yes, they're foxes and badgers and rabbits and so on, and therefor in the barest of senses are, indeed, wild animals. But you know what, you can accurately portray wild animals in animated movies and STILL MAKE THEM LIKEABLE!!
Hell, let me direct you to a GOOD fox movie: Vuk, or in english, The Little Fox. This is a Hungarian movie that doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of life that a fox probably would face living in a forest with hunters all around. Vuk is orphaned in a surprisingly graphic scene (well, that is if you get the uncensored version), they show the killing and eating of ducks and chickens, and the animals talk with a frankness that would've made this movie very cynical and pessimistic were it not for the excellent dialogue. Even when they bring us face-to-face with death, it doesn't lose that frankness and "life must go on" attitude, which is why this movie is so dear to my heart. If I were to lose my head and have kids, Vuk is the movie I'd show to them.
NOT this piece of crap.
To be fair, it wasn't painfully, atrociously awful. It's certainly not the worst movie of the year, and it did have its moments when the animation was decent. But here's the killer: This should've been so much more. A decent Mr. Fox movie should be gracing the top of my "Best animated films of '09" list, not scraping the bottom of the barrel. I don't know what drugs Wes Anderson slipped the critics, but I'm now doubly pissed that I didn't get some, because this movie is definentally SOME OL' BULLSHIT.
But I'm pretty alone in my opinion.