By Todd Gilchrist (reprint from 11/3/09 -- AFI Film Festival)

It's not hard to like any movie that uses the Beach Boys' music, but Wes Anderson makes it especially easy. As Hollywood's foremost purveyor of hipster drama, his pedigree as a reliable selector of appropriately wistful, poignant and all-around unforgettable songs is virtually unrivaled, butFantastic Mr. Fox exceeds even the work of his earlier films, using "Heroes and Villains," and later, "I Get Around" as populist punctuation that manages to be both specifically relevant and substantively rousing.

As an animated opus, the film is by necessity his most controlled to date, a painstakingly-designed dollhouse where he no longer controls just the music, sets, and costumes, but the performers themselves. Ironically, however, it feels like his loosest as well - a gloriously unwieldy comedy of manners submerged in the minutiae of Anderson's madcap creativity. All of which makes Fantastic Mr. Fox a celebration both of its stop-motion medium and Anderson's aesthetic, while still managing to fully document the spectacular fun in original author Roald Dahl's daffy, distinctive imagination.
categories Reviews, Cinematical