After years of making movies that placed people like playthings in precious, dollhouse-like settings (the townhouse in The Royal Tenenbaums, the ship of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, the train cars of The Darjeeling Limited), it seemed natural that Wes Anderson would go all the way and make a stop-motion movie. His miniaturist’s eye is perfectly suited to the children’s storybook world of Roald Dahl, an author who treated kids like little sophisticates, capable of appreciating satires on human foibles that alternate between whimsy and terror.
In this case, it’s a story about a fox (voiced with characteristic suaveness by George Clooney) whose love of larceny finally gets him in trouble with three very dangerous chicken ranchers. Even as a drama of family jealousy typical of Anderson or co-screenwriter Noah Baumach (The Squid and the Whale) unfolds under his earthen roof, Mr. Fox must pull together all the woodland critters to take on the ranchers. The animals were initially designed by Henry Selick (who had also worked with Anderson on the otherworldly sea creatures in Life Aquatic), and every whisker seems to vibrate with life.