Thursday, 25 March 2010



Sometimes you wonder what the results would have been if directors had been assigned to material wildly inappropriate to their strengths, styles and talents. What would Police Academy have been like if helmed by someone like Stanley Kubrick? (Answer: a bit like Police Academy: Mission To Moscow, given that it isn't half as funny as Full Metal Jacket.) What would happen if the next Harry Potter fell into the hands of Paul Verhoven or Sam Raimi? A James Bond movie by the director of Stranger Than Fiction? (Oh, wait, they did that one and it wasn't pretty.)

In this instance we have an Aardman Animations movie directed by a cool indie arthouse name: Wes Anderson, and the result is Fantastic Mr. Fox: a bizarre combination of two wildly different movies apparently spliced together at random. It's a weird affair that takes superb stop-motion animal animation sequences and overlays smart and witty intellectual dialogue over them, with a terrific voice cast (George Clooney, Meryl Streep), but every so often it gives up on that and turns into Chicken Run with a banjo soundtrack. Clooney is the urbane, civilised fox-about-town who's given up stealing chickens and settled down to write a newspaper column, but his surrender to his natural animal drives sets the three local farmers (led by Michael Gambon) against him, his family and the woodland community of his fellow talking animals.

It's generally good natured fun and I giggled throughout, but that was probably more at the incongruity of the style with the content than at any of the jokes. Though it's a PG certificate, that's not because it's a childrens' film; rather that it's simply not got any sex, violence or swearing (all the potentially rude words are replaced with "cuss" as an all-purpose profanity, just as Porridge had "naff" and Red Dwarf used "smeg"). I'm not too familiar with Wes Anderson's other films although I did see Rushmore (it was obligatory as I went to a school called Rushmoor, and it's close enough), but I may well seek out a few others. Meanwhile, I want Woody Allen to make The Fast And The Furious Part 5.


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