I do like Wes Anderson. You may have never heard of him, but if you have, you probably like him too.
The thing about him, though, is that he makes films that don’t make money. It’s weird, because he gets to work with pretty much any actor he wants, owing to the brilliant, challenging and delightful characters with which he outfits his scripts, and all of his work has been almost universally critically praised.
But he doesn’t make films for wide audiences, because he never makes decisions based upon what will turn out to be more marketable. Instead, like all filmmakers should, he makes his films personally. He’s very, very smart, but he’s not interested in proving that. Instead, he seems most passionate about telling stories in a way that he considers engaging and meaningful. And he’s uncompromising in that vision.
So his films don’t make money. At least, they haven’t yet. It’s possible that Fantastic Mr. Fox will finally break through into a much wider audience. It might even turn a profit.
None of that really matters to you, though, does it? It shouldn’t. I’m here to talk about whether or not I thought Anderson’s venture into animation turned out to be any good.
Oh gosh. Was it ever.
If you’ve seen any of his other films, then you’ll be pleased to hear that this was classic Wes Anderson, complete with the very understated, deeply funny dialogue, the quirky characters, and the ridiculous twists in plot. But it’s also very family-friendly, which is certainly a bit of a departure from his previous films, which consistently address some darker or more mature elements.
But this isn’t your normal family/kids flick, either. The themes are poignant and a little complex. There are a lot of things that will fly right over the heads of the young, and will leave adults in something of a contemplative stupor. I’ve always been amazed at Anderson’s ability to mix extraordinarily thought-provoking subtexts in with very effective humor.
You may have realized by now that I’m not big on plot summary. And so here, I won’t tell you what the film is about. It’s terribly fun, and it won’t hurt you not to know before you go. And if you really want to know, you can find out pretty much anywhere else.
It was widely released last Thursday, and that’s when I saw it. It was a great end to a great Thanksgiving. If you’re looking for something to see with the family this weekend, this really is a “fantastic” choice.
Jordan Petersen is a film correspondent for Rhombus.
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