IHAO on ... Fantastic Mr. Fox

One of the absolutely most difficult things to express to people about my grading system is that there are very good films out there that I hate.  I use my objective grade and subjective grade together thing to be able to talk about just those kinds of things.  But, honestly, my tastes are so diverse that I end up generally liking most really good movies because I just really like well made movies.  Segue, let's talk about Wes Anderson.

I remember watching The Royal Tenenbaums many years back.  It was suggested to me as a great film.  I liked a whole bunch of the actors, I had never heard of this guy, and I was told it was funny.  So I watch it.  And I hated it.  I later was shown Rushmore, which has a bunch of good actors and I was told it was funny.  I watch it.  And I hated it.  Man, do I hate this stuff.  So I say "this guy must not be my cup of tea" and leave it at that.

But so many film people I know love the guy and his films.  And so many non-film people really love his films.  They love the quirk and the weird and the slightly inhumanness of it all.  They love the high class characters dealing with being unable to unload their real emotions and stuck in a rut.  They love the odd music choices and the storybook strange camera placement and the overly meticulated - what? it could be a word - blocking.  And none of that is bad.  Not a single bit.  In fact, a lot of it is great.  And I hate all of it.  A pure, deep down inside me, personal subjective rancor that burns deep in the crucible of my soul in a fire of utter hatred and bile.  I just hate Wes Anderson's films.

Thank you, Vince Vaughn, for being the only gif I could find that showed true, complete, and utter hatred instead of "Haters Gonna Hate."

So I swore them off.  And I lived a happy life.  And then I started getting more into films.  I started forcing myself to be more critical, to see the things that are elements of great filmmaking, of seeking out great films, of learning why the films I love are actually well made, or not well made as the case was going to be in a lot of them.  Poor Chipmunk Adventure, with your beautiful musical, hilarious bad guys, terrible vignette-y plot, and only sometimes good looking animation.

At the same time, my rival Wes Anderson was looking for a new way to destroy me.  So he decided to take a form of filmmaking I love, stop motion, and a Roald Dahl story I LOVED since I was a child, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and turn his social commentary lens to it and tell his own story using Dahl's fantastic story as a fantastic backbone to make a fantastic movie.  A fantastic movie that I still utterly hate, even though I can see how good it is.

Plot: A crook and family man, Mr. Fox (Clooney), swears off stealing.  But the itch gets to him, so he plans on final big heist after years of living a white-color job of boredom for him.  But the farmers he steals from retaliate, and retaliate, and continue to retaliate, swearing to destroy everything because of Mr. Fox's hubris.

Let me do this.  You can already hear the hate in every word I write.  I yell each word at the top of my lungs, filled with ichor and bile, even the positive things.  So let me point out the few things that don't quite work in this film.  The voice cast, while in a few cases excellent, feels a little off, with the worst offender being Clooney, who actually is kind of emotionless, and that hurts the tone and morality of the film a bit.  Also, the mouth movements of the foxes doesn't match the voices, most noticably from profile.  And ... that's it.

Beyond those two legitimate complaints, there really is nothing "bad" about the movie.  In fact, in spite of myself, there were some moments I really loved.  Some characters I really enjoyed.  Those things I enjoyed were few and far between, and the stuff between them was stuff that made me wish I was removing layers of skin from my eyelids instead of watching it, but that is merely because I hate every choice Wes Anderson makes.  Every very good and valid choice.  Every excellent choice.  Every weird song works.  Every overly micromanaged shot makes the most out of the image we are seeing.  Every color correction and overly stylized set dressing all of it enhances the film.  This is a GOOD movie.  A great movie, really, I think.  And I just cannot stand it.

Grade: A--

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