Fantastic Mr. Fox


Successful family films are often applauded for being entertaining for kids, with just enough meat for adults to appreciate as well. Fantastic Mr. Fox rejects that formula, though, being an animated family film more suited for adults, with barely a pinch of what I would expect kids to enjoy.
With overtones of responsibility versus nature, social expectations versus being "different," this film directed by Wes Anderson takes some heavy themes and adds a bit of whimsy with gorgeous stop-action animation, brilliant voice casting and direction, and one of the most random (yet enjoyable) soundtracks of recent memory. I appreciated the understated, subdued action of this otherwise over-the-top story. Mr. Fox - an accomplished bird thief who has long since given up his trade for domestic life - is tempted back into his criminal ways for just one more "big job." His antics spiral out of control, though, eventually enveloping his entire family and community into his victims' schemes for payback.
The highly stylized world and quiet humor of Fantastic Mr. Fox are enjoyable enough to watch as a grown-up, but I fear most kids would get bored in a hurry. Not only that, but for a family film, I found an unexpected amount of violence (the farmers bent on payback use intense methods to try to kill the animals; there's also an insanely murderous rat involved), alcohol and tobacco use, and an annoying substitution for actual swear words (characters use the word "cuss" in "What the cuss?").
Clearly, I'm torn. On one hand, I admired and enjoyed the unusual look and feel of the film. On the other hand, I don't necessarily see its position as a family film, given that most kids would simply ask "So what?" by the end of the movie. This is definitely a time when you'd need to know the interests of your own children before viewing as a family.
Motherly Advice: I would recommend this for ages 8 and older, though - as I said - I wonder if the style, direction, and story would be lost on kids younger than middle teens.
Stacey Nerdin-Movie Mom