The buildup for the release of Fantastic Mr. Fox has been at its zenith in the last few months. After all, it has been two years since Wes Anderson's last film, The Darjeeling Limited, was released. Now that Fantastic Mr. Fox is in theaters, it is safe to say that the wait for the undisputed premier auteur (sorry Quentin, your place and time as directorial god remains in the 90s) of the past decade's latest endeavor was not in vain. Anderson's devotion to Roald Dahl's somewhat underappreciated children's story (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory just had to be plucked from non-obscurity by Tim Burton) is masterfully rendered in the stop motion animation method.
The collaborative process carried out during the making of Fantastic Mr. Fox relies on two important pairings, the first being the writing duo of Noah Baumbach (best known for The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding) and Wes Anderson and the second being the film's melding of minds for animation, which was initially started by Harry Selick (who left the project to work on Coraline) and completed by Mark Gustafson as the new animation director.
Anderson's most notable and obvious trademark is his musical selection, a characteristic of his films that often stands out more than anything else. This time around though, Anderson does not unearth any truly thankless gems as he did with The Kinks in The Darjeeling Limited or Devo in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Still, The Rolling Stones and The Bobby Fuller Four are used during some of the most memorable moments of the film (namely the tractor scene when Boggis, Bunce, and Bean try to dig Mr. Fox out of the hole he and his posse are hiding in).
Most significantly in the music sector, however, is Jarvis Cocker as Petey, a stooge of Bean's, the most vindictive farmer of the three. As Petey, Cocker sings the whimsical tune of "Fantastic Mr. Fox," which Mr. Bean reams him for as Petey simply makes up the words and melody as he goes along (a latent urging on Anderson's part to return to Pulp?).
Sometimes the likeability of the work of someone as larger than life as Wes Anderson is clouded by the automatically positive reception surrounding anything he does. Is Fantastic Mr. Fox a good movie? Absolutely. But it is not exactly as incredible as certain critical reviews have painted it to be. The primary factor in making it great is the constantly repeated motif that, even when people age, they cannot really let go of who they were or the ambitions they once envisioned achieving. What Fantastic Mr. Fox basically tells us is that it is impossible to let go of all traces of impetuosity and youthful idealism, no matter how much contrary evidence proves that we should.