"Boggis and Bunce and Bean One fat, one short, one lean. These horrible crooks, So different in looks, Were none the less equally mean!"
Fantastic Mr. Fox is a 2009 animated family film centered upon the eponymous character's attempt to go straight, renouncing his chicken-stealing ways. It is filmed in stop motion as director Wes Anderson's first foray into animation. Including an all star cast, it has reviewed well, containing Wes Anderson's indie mannerism and introspective tone, along with real charm and his trademark dysfunctional family.Based on the story of the same name by Roald Dahl, but greatly expands upon its premise, focusing upon Mr. Fox's family's dynamic, and the town's attempt to outwit the farmers.
The Ace: Kristofferson, a fox kid who seemingly can do no wrong, much to Ash's frustration who sees everyone, including his own father, belittling him in comparison. Subverted in that Kris is a soft-spoken nice guy who, while he will not hide his talents, never wanted to embarrass his cousin. Ash finally realizes that when he is harassed by a bully and Kris kicks that bully's ass in his cousin's defense. Furthermore, when Kris gets captured, Ash helps rescue him and impresses everyone to his own talents, allowing the kids to fully make peace and become friends.
Adaptation Expansion: The book ends after the animals have made their secret tunnels to the farms while the farmers keep watch outside the hole. The movie adds another two or three parts of the battle.
Though it adds more scenes the ending is still a nearly identical scenario to the original only it occurs a few scenes later. No doubt to avoid the movie being too short. note Dahl's first draft of the book also ended with the foxes finding a supermarket to steal from, but it was rejected for being "too easy" a solution and implying it's OK to steal from shops. The movie fixes the former by sticking the book's solution partway through the movie and the latter by making the supermarket owned by the farmers.
Adaptational Villainy: In the original novel, Rat was simply a scavenger who hung out in Bean's cellar filching the cider (and was a coward who Fox was able to scare off pretty easily); in this version, he's more malicious, actually being an enforcer for the three farmers.
Alas, Poor Villain: In-universe example. All the animals are saddened by the death of Rat, even Fox himself (who dealt the killing blow), despite his being the traitorous head of security for farmer Bean. In fairness, Rat did manage to come to his senses at last in his few final moments when he revealed that he had turned traitor because he had become too addicted to the apple cider of Bean.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Partly. Though it made her regret marrying him, Felicity can't help falling for his "fantastic" wild animal nature.
All There in the Manual: Fans of the book may gripe at the liberties taken with the plot, but a lot of them were in fact taken from Dahl's own manuscripts of alternative plot possibilities, which were used because the plot as published didn't extend well to feature length.
Such examples of a director/adaptor's respect for the original author/material is rare in the history of movie adaptations.
Ambiguously Gay: Ash, who is called "different" (with associated wavy hand motions) by everybody around him, dresses like a girl according to Beaver's son, and is extremely fussy... and he's seen with markings that resemble eyeliner. Not to mention the grape juice "lipstick" he sports near the end of the film. Although he does seem to like Agnes.note Of course, childhood crushes are often irrelevant as far as adult sexuality goes. And dating girls is fairly typical behaviour for self-denying closet gays. Let's just say that one could see Ash as gay.
Animal Nemesis: The farmers' obsession with destroying the eponymous fox and the effort they put in to achieve it is simply outstanding overkill.
Author Appeal: Wes Anderson shoehorned the subplot of the son and his friend to include his favorite theme of family alienation.
Badass Boast: "Your tractors uprooted my tree. Your posse hunted my family. Your gunmen kidnapped my nephew. Your rat insulted my wife — and you shot off my tail. I’m not leaving here without that necktie."
Subverted almost immediately afterward when the farmers' workforce replies with a hail of bullets. "Okay, nevermind, let's get out of here."
Mr. Fox: This is some of the strongest, finest alcoholic cider money can buy. It burns in your throat, boils in your stomach, and tastes almost exactly like pure melted gold.
Beware the Nice Ones: Kristofferson is a soft-spoken fox kit, but if you dare bully his cousin, Ash, you are in for a world of hurt with only the mercy being attacked shoeless to avoid breaking your muzzle.
The equally quiet Mrs. Fox also permanently scars her husband in a fit of anger, threatens Rat with a length of padlocked chain, and proves to be pretty handy with improvised explosives.
Be Yourself: Deconstructed. Mrs. Fox forcing her husband to not Be Himself is what kicks off the plot, and his Snap Back has fairly dramatic consequences, including her regretting their marriage. The benefit of following this trope is ambiguous.
Bittersweet Ending: Best emphasized by Mr. Fox's toast. While earlier he was toasting to their victory, at the end he simply toasts to their survival.
Of course. It's away from predators and it's within walking distance of an endless food supply, which is so massive that the meager amounts of food needed to feed everyone would easily go unnoticed. It makes perfect sense. They're actually better off than they were before with other animals considering moving in.
Bratty Half-Pint: Ash is actually older than his cousin, but fits this trope to a T, at least until character development kicks in.
The Cameo: Wes Anderson as Weasel, Owen Wilson as Coach Skip, Mario Batali as Chef Rabbit and Adrien Brody as Rickity the Field Mouse.
In an interview, Bill Murray jokes that he also stood in for the wolf during filming.
Command Roster: Played with and one of the film's aesops, with each individual special skills highlighted, and even takes on a vaguely military overtone for the final act. Contains the obligatory My Friends... and Zoidberg.
Creepy Children Singing: Although it's only creepy in-universe. The three farmers are so infamous even among humans that children have developed a schoolyard rhyme about them. Badger, a lawyer, uses a recording of it to try to dissuade clients from buying property in their area.
Cunning Like a Fox: Mr. Fox - The rest of his family have personalities distinct from this.
Cultural Translation: The Americanized voices/accents on the animal characters and British voices/accents on the human characters add contrast between their two parallel societies.
Cut-and-Paste Note: The farmers and the animals each send the other side a cut and paste note, despite the fact that they already know each other's identities. They hang a lampshade by having each side ask aloud why the other did this.
Furry Confusion: So you have a dazzling array of anthropomorphic animals who act exactly like humans (and can converse with them!) but are treated like animals by the humans, despite driving motorbikes and the like. And then you have the actual birds which they eat. Maybe just mammals are intelligent? But then you have the farmers' dogs and horses and the wolf who looks like an actual wolf.
Actually deconstructed somewhat. The plot of the film is ultimately driven by the conflict between Mr. Fox's human lifestyle, and his fox instincts. In one scene Mr. Fox speechifies about the value of all the animals' dual identities.
It's very well thought-out actually. Domesticated animals are generally less sentient in the film's universe than medium-sized wild animals, who behave the most like humans, thus the Fox family as medium-sized omnivores qualify. Large predators like the wolf are likewise more wild than anthropomorphic.
Also played for laughs, particularly in the scene where Mr. Fox and Badger are arguing in the office.
Don't forget his eating manners at the dinner table.
This is ultimately the main theme of the movie, and Mr. Fox's inner conflict between his desire to be more like a "wild animal" and his comfortable suburban life is what drives the entire storyline. The film's catharsis comes during the scene where Mr. Fox finally learns how to make peace with his double nature through his encounter with an *actual* wild animal.
How Do You Like Them Apples?: Mr. Fox is shown biting into an apple at the beginning of the film, shortly before getting trapped and setting off the plot.
Humans Are the Real Monsters: Subverted. The only humans portrayed in a negative light are the three greedy and incredibly wealthy farmers, and even then, Bean is the only farmer who is really evil.
Bean also has the tunnel vision, intense focus, and general demeanor of a violent alcoholic with a hair trigger. Plausible for someone who is said to live on his own hard cider.
Iconic Outfit: Ash's very...odd choice of dress, consisting of all-white clothes, a cape and the pants tucked into his socks. Its strangeness is lampshaded by Mr. Fox, with Mrs. Fox handwaving it as a phase Ash is going through.
The observant will notice him reading a comic book about a superhero called White Mask in one scene (and a poster adorns his bedroom wall), so it's apparently some sort of makeshift superhero costume.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The farmers and snipers shoot away the wooden crates the gang is hiding behind until they are outlined, then Ash runs a gauntlet while they fire enough ammo at him to supply the Normandy Invasion.
Infant Immortality: There's not really any good reason for the farmers to keep Kris alive once they get a recording of him... but hey, they aren't totally evil. On the other hand, Kris was a prime hostage, as Mr. Fox was the one they really wanted.
And the fact that they tried to pass off a tape recording as him suggests they never intended to let him go, and would probably kill him once they had no further use.
Info Drop: A more recent example would be in the movie of Fantastic Mr Fox. There is much fun had with the conversion between fox years and human years (a 6:1 ratio), though a specific year for the movie's events is never given: it can, however, be extrapolated from Ash's age, Mr. Fox's age and the years we see on a trophy (1973, in case you were wondering).
Oddly enough, however, Rat's cider bottle has "Cuvée 2006" stamped on it, and one of the soundtrack's songs is titled, "Stunt Expo 2004". Supposedly, the year is left vague, even though the aesthetic would suggest some time before the 00s.
Ink-Suit Actor: Technically Clay Suit Actor. Petey is directly modeled after Jarvis Cocker.
Just Eat Him: A weird but far more realistic example then most, as Mr. Fox tries to teach Kylie the fine art of making a clean kill.note Somewhat Truth in Television; possums are indeed omnivorous, have quite sharp teeth, and can kill small chickens by biting the neck, but they usually target eggs and chicks because of the smaller size of their teeth and jaws. Doesn't help that Kylie is The Woobie to start with.
Mr. Fox: I told you: kill it with one bite! Kylie: I'm trying! My teeth don't work like yours.
Boggis, Bunce and Bean have the Ironic Nursery Rhyme which recurs in a whistle or a children's choir every time they're up to no good. ... or about to get their comeuppance.
There is also "Kristofferson's Theme" and "Mr. Fox in the Field", which get bonus points for having similar harmony and instruments. Musically, they reenforce the conflict between Mr. Fox, Ash - his natural son who is "different" - and Kristofferson - the son he would prefer.
The whack-bat sequence gets a theme that sound's like an American highschool football band that replays during the finale.
Rat. Definitely Rat. With gratuitous finger-snapping.
Heck, even the trains get one. A light and cheerful fairground tune plays whenever there's a train in shot, whether it's a model or a real one in the distance. What this is supposed to represent is open to interpretation.
Loveable Rogue: Mr Fox plays this archetype oh so straight. Especially when Fridge Logic kicks in. Also acts as a deconstruction, he constantly needs to be the centre of attention, disappointed if he doesn't leave others awestruck. This leads to his compulsion which nearly tears his family apart and gets them killed.
Beaver's son: Your dad got us into this mess, that's why you're going to pick some this mud up off the ground and eat it.
Meaningful Background Event: Rat is visible in the background behind Mr. Fox for about a minute before he announces his presence. While not as dramatic, the helicopter that's been puttering back and forth throughout the movie also counts.
Midlife Crisis House: The tree that Mr. Fox can't really afford is one of these, a way to avoid feeling "poor".
Misplaced Wildlife: Kylie is a possum in what appears to be an English countryside (most animal species are European, and the farmers talk with British accents).
Mook Lieutenant: Petey, being the employee Bean radios when he wants personnel assembled or materiel acquired.
Mundane Made Awesome: A running theme: one of the main sources of humor in the movie is the characters being dramatically intense about random things. It especially runs in the Fox family - Mr. Fox and Ash do this lot.
My Girl Is Not a Slut: Heavily implied that before she settled down with Mr. Fox, Mrs. Fox very much averted this.
Kylie: (In response to a comment made by Rat) The town tart? Fox: Shut up.
Considering the slang "foxy" is an adjective used to describe a beautiful and sensuous woman, is this really any surprise?
Never Say "Die": Averted, death is constantly mentioned in graphic detail and is even seen in the final fate of Rat.
Psycho for Hire: Rat is employed as Bean's security guard over the cider cellar. As he's dying, he reveals he originally took the job for the cider rather than the thrill of fighting off and catching intruders.
Reality Ensues: Mr. Fox's description of the consequences of being, and being bitten by, a rabid dog. These days it's not so much 'death sentence' as it is 'medication' for the former and 'six months of stomach injections' for the latter.
Retraux: Blatantly so. Much of the animation takes inspiration from early pioneers of stop motion, such as Willis O'Brian and Ray Harryhausen, and they even intentionally add imperfections to the fur, which is similar to a more unintentional instance in King Kong.
Revenge Before Reason: Played straight for about a minute when Mr. Fox vows to get his tail back from Bean, then immediately averted when after narrowly avoiding a hail of gunfire Mr. Fox decides it would be a better idea to just get the hell out of there
One of the songs is from another animated film with foxy leads, Disney's Robin Hood. There's also nods to that other caper movie where George Clooney's character gives up his thievery to be with his wife, only to fall back into it and put everyone in danger.
There's also one to Rebel Without a Cause: During one of Mr. and Mrs. Fox's arguments, Kylie appears wearing a red blanket, quoting Dean's famous speech, "You say one thing, he says another, and everybody changes back again!", only missing the infamous "You're tearing me apart!".
The shop outside which Fox and Kylie steal the motorbike is called Padington Cycles.
Time Skip: The intro is two years (twelve fox years) before the rest of the film.
Title Drop: "I think I have this thing where I need to have everyone think I'm the greatest... the quote unquote 'Fantastic Mr. Fox.'"
Dropped again at the end by Felicity.
Too Dumb to Live: Mr. Fox gets carried away sometimes. Examining the anti-fox trap the farmer's set up? Trying to make friends with the rabid dog, after your companions have already gotten away? Edging into this trope.
Trademark Favorite Food: Boggis - chicken; Bunce - homemade doughnuts with smashed up goose livers injected into them; Bean - strong alcoholic apple cider.
Two of Your Earth Minutes: Time in the film is often measured in both human and fox measurements (e.g. two human years is equal to twelve fox years).
The Unfavourite: Ash considers himself this, seeing himself inferior to his athletic and more popular cousin, and his father's attitude towards said cousin doesn't help. Which leads to Bratty Half-Pint (see above).
Unusual Euphemism: Throughout the movie, every possible cuss word that could have been possibly used is literally replaced with the word 'cuss'. Leads to a very funny moment when the word is seen grafittied on a city wall.
Wingding Eyes: Kylie's eyes will change to spirals when he zones out. When the dogs and Boggis pass out (or something like it), their eyes turn into asterisks. The dead poultry and Rat have X's for eyes.
It seems much more plausible that Mrs. Fox went to the doctor for a pregnancy check, considering how all the dialogue in the first scene builds up towards the reveal that she is with child.
X-Ray Sparks: Played for Laughs with Kylie and Mr. Fox, whose skeletons show through when they climb the electric fence. Played lethally serious with Rat during his fight with Mr. Fox in the underground transformer room.