Fantastic Mr. Fox
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWes Anderson
Screenplay by
Based onFantastic Mr Fox
by Roald Dahl
Produced by
CinematographyTristan Oliver[1]
Edited byAndrew Weisblum[1]
Music byAlexandre Desplat
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 14, 2009 (2009-10-14) (London Film Festival)
  • November 13, 2009 (2009-11-13) (United States)
Running time
87 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States[3]
Budget$40 million[4]
Box office$46.2 million[5]

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a 2009 American animated adventure-comedy film[6] directed by Wes Anderson from a screenplay by Anderson and Noah Baumbach and based on the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. Featuring stop-motion animation, it stars George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, and Owen Wilson. In the film, a spree of thefts led by Mr. Fox (Clooney) results in his family, and later his community, being hunted down by three farmers.

Development on the project began in 2004 as a collaboration between Anderson and Henry Selick under Revolution Studios; by 2007, Revolution and Selick left for other projects. Work on Fantastic Mr. Fox was moved to 20th Century Fox, where production began in 2007 on Stage C of 3 Mills Studios in London. In addition to an original score by Alexandre Desplat, the soundtrack includes several songs from other artists.

Fantastic Mr. Fox premiered as the opening film of the 53rd edition of the London Film Festival on October 14, 2009, and was released in the United States on November 13, to critical acclaim, with praise for its humor, stop-motion animation and Anderson's direction. However, it underperformed at the box office, grossing $46.2 million against a $40 million budget. The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score.


While raiding Berk's Squab Farm, Mr. Fox triggers a fox trap caging himself along with his wife Felicity. She reveals her pregnancy to her husband and pleads with him to find a safer job if they escape, and he agrees.

Two human years (12 fox years) later, the Foxes and their son Ash are living in a hole. Mr. Fox, now a newspaper columnist, moves the family into a better home inside a tree, ignoring the warnings of his lawyer Clive Badger about how dangerous the area is for foxes due to its proximity to facilities run by three farmers: Walt Boggis, Nate Bunce, and Frank Bean.

Soon after the Foxes move in, Felicity's nephew Kristofferson Silverfox comes to live with them due to his father receiving long-term medical treatment for double pneumonia. While Mr. and Mrs. Fox welcome him, Ash finds this situation intolerable, as his soft-spoken cousin is superior to him at almost everything and is charming everyone at his expense. Longing for his days as a thief, Mr. Fox and his opossum friend Kylie, the superintendent, steal produce and poultry from Boggis and Bunce's farms. They take Kristofferson along on the raid on Bean's cider cellar, which deepens Ash's resentment. Mr. Fox conceals these outings from Felicity, who becomes suspicious when unexplained food appears in their larder.

Angered by the raids, the farmers decide to kill Mr. Fox. They camp out near his home, and when Mr. Fox emerges, they open fire but only shoot off his tail. After demolishing the site of the tree while attempting to dig Mr. Fox out, they discover the Foxes have dug an escape tunnel. As the Foxes will have to surface for food and water, the farmers wait at the tunnel mouth. Underground, Felicity is upset that Mr. Fox returned to his thieving ways.

The group encounters Badger and many other local animal residents whose homes the farmers have also destroyed. As the animals begin fearing starvation, Mr. Fox calls them together and leads them on a digging expedition to tunnel to the three farms, stealing all of their prized goods. While the animals feast, Ash and Kristofferson begin to reconcile after Kristofferson defends Ash from Beaver's son.

Discovering that Mr. Fox has stolen their goods, the farmers and the fire chief flood the animals' tunnel network with some of Bean's cider, forcing the animals to retreat to the sewers. Ash and Kristofferson slip away from the celebration and return to Bean's farm, intending to reclaim the missing tail, but Bean's wife captures Kristofferson. Realizing that the farmers plan to use Kristofferson to lure him into an ambush, Mr. Fox heads to the surface to surrender but returns when Rat, Bean's violent security guard, confronts the animals and attacks Ash and Felicity. A fight between Mr. Fox and Rat results in the latter being pushed into a generator, electrocuting him. Before dying, Rat reveals that Kristofferson is being held in an attic in Bean Annex, prompting Mr. Fox to organize a rescue mission.

Mr. Fox asks the farmers for a meeting in Paddington near the sewer hub, offering to surrender himself on the condition that the farmers free Kristofferson and spare the other animals. The farmers prepare an ambush, but the animals, anticipating it, launch a counterattack that allows Mr. Fox, Ash, and Kylie to enter Bean Annex undetected. Ash frees Kristofferson and impresses his father and the group by braving enemy fire to release a rabid beagle to keep the farmers at bay. The animal snatches the fox tail from Mr. Bean and rips it apart. Kristofferson picks up the torn tail as the group escapes back to the sewers.

As the farmers wait for the animals to come out of the manhole, the animals settle into their new homes in the sewers, inviting any other animals to join them. Soon after, Fox (sporting the tail as a clip on) raids a supermarket owned by the farmers, where Felicity reveals her upcoming pregnancy as the animals dance in the aisle, celebrating their abundant new food source.

Voice cast



Joe Roth and Revolution Studios bought the film rights to Fantastic Mr Fox in 2004. In 2006, Mark Mothersbaugh said that he was working on the soundtrack.[7] Wes Anderson signed on as director with Henry Selick, who worked with Anderson on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, as animation director. Anderson revealed that he signed on because Roald Dahl was one of his heroes.[8] Originally, Cate Blanchett was to voice Mrs. Fox, but she left the role for undisclosed reasons.[9]

The story the novel covers would amount to the second act of the film. Anderson added new scenes to serve for the film's beginning and end.[10] The new scenes precede Mr. Fox's plan to steal from the three farmers and follow the farmers bulldozing of the hill, beginning with the flooding of the tunnel. Selick left the project, to work on the Neil Gaiman story Coraline in February 2006.[11] He was replaced by Mark Gustafson.[12] 20th Century Fox became the project's home in October 2006 after Revolution left for other projects.[13][14][15]

By September 2007, voice work on the film began.[16] Anderson chose to record the voices outside rather than in a studio: "We went out in a forest, went in an attic, and went in a stable. We went underground for some things. There was a great spontaneity in the recordings because of that".[12] The voices were recorded before any animation was done.[17]


Anderson, regarding the production design, said his intention was to use real trees and sand for the sets, "but it's all miniature".[16] Great Missenden, where Roald Dahl lived, has a major influence on the film's look.[8] The film mixes several forms of animation but consists primarily of stop motion.[18] Animation took place in London,[12] on Stage C at 3 Mills Studios, and the puppets were created by Mackinnon & Saunders,[19] with Anderson directing the crew, many of whom animated Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.[20] Selick, who kept in contact with Anderson, said the director would act out scenes while in Paris and send them to Gustafson and the animators via iPhone.[21]


Themes in the film include gluttony and greed, which are manifested by both the protagonists and antagonists, in addition to hardship, economic determinism,[22] justice and freedom,[23] individuality, classism, insecurity and conformity (such as the case with Mr. Fox's son Ash),[22] self-acceptance, personal struggle and accepting social change.[24][25][26]

Characters symbolization and traits

Mr. Fox symbolizes the tenacious quest of grandness and success to meet his own needs (i.e. stealing cider).[27]

The three farmers, Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, represent the wealthy in society.[28] Mr. Fox has a desperate desire for validation from others, as he battles his own internal insecurities.[27] Mr. Fox exhibits narcissism and a fear of accepting defeat, although the film demonstrates that failure is not a bad thing, despite the destruction of his home.[25] The farmers' attacks on the animals is due to Mr. Fox's narcissism and his resilience on burglary.[28]

Unlike in the book, Mr. Fox possesses self-consciousness and has an existential crisis in the film.[29] Mr Fox's existential crisis is what drives him to purchase a newer house and regress back to his criminal habits in order to obtain better food for his family. However, only by the end of the film he realizes that his pride had gotten in the way, where he put his loved ones in danger, and this therefore becomes the moral of the story; to prohibit self-pride getting in the way of loved ones.[30]

Class struggle

The film depict issues of class struggle, as Mr. Fox feels poor and is then determined to take on the affluent, avaricious farmers. In retaliation to Mr. Fox's thievery of produce, the farmers destroy nearly everything, killing almost every animal in town (as a means of collective punishment), with others being displaced. In the end, however, it is the lower class (or the unfortunate and feeble) animals who are the champions and are able to outwit the rich, vindictive farmers.[31]

Gender roles

The film focuses on what it means to be a father and husband; Mr. Fox breaks his promise made to his wife, and therefore turns everyone's lives upside down (after still continuing to steal), whereby the situation compels him to look at himself and to acknowledge who he is.[31]

A lot of the qualities that Mr. Fox feels that makes him great are linked with his masculinity, since this film is set in the 1970s, a period when men were taught they should be strong and confident earners of the family. The reason Mr. Fox's fails halfway through film is due to him feeling that he has not achieved sufficiently as a man. As a housewife, Mrs. Fox's main contribution to the film's plot is pressing Mr. Fox to evaluate the impact of his recklessness, as she was stereotyped as a "proper woman", a notion commonly held in the 1970s.[30]

Denialism and acceptance

Throughout the film, the animal protagonists are in denial about being "wild animals", even though the way they interact and fight showcase that they are wild. Mr. Fox and Kyle discuss how they are afraid of wolves (which are an example of a wild animal).[24] Though coming into contact with a wolf in the film's ending, they appreciate the wolf's beauty and their similarities with wolves. Mr. Fox then acknowledges the idea of living underground since he accepts himself to be a wild animal with a simple life.[25]


The film had its world premiere as the opening film of the 53rd edition of the London Film Festival on October 14, 2009.[32] 20th Century Fox released it theatrically the following month on November 13.

Home media

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the DVD and Blu-ray on March 23, 2010.[33] The Criterion Collection released the film on Blu-ray and DVD on February 18, 2014.[34]

On streaming, Fantastic Mr. Fox was added on Disney+ in the US and Canada on May 22, 2020.[35]

Box office

Fantastic Mr. Fox grossed $21,002,919 in the U.S., and $25,468,104 outside the U.S., making a total of $46,187,511 worldwide.[36]

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 93% based on 245 reviews and an average rating of 7.90/10. The site's consensus states: "Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal – and it shows Wes Anderson has a knack for animation".[37] The film also became the second highest-rated animated film in 2009 on the site, behind Up. On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 83 out of 100 based on 34 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[38] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[39]

Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars out of four, writing that, like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, children may find some aspects of the film perplexing or scary, which he considered a positive element to a children's film.[40] Devin D. O'Leary of Weekly Alibi called it "a one-of-a-kind family classic."[41]

A. O. Scott called Fantastic Mr. Fox:

In some ways (Wes Anderson's) most fully realized and satisfying film. Once you adjust to its stop-and-start rhythms and its scruffy looks, you can appreciate its wit, its beauty and the sly gravity of its emotional undercurrents. The work done by the animation director, Mark Gustafson, by the director of photography, Tristan Oliver, and by the production designer, Nelson Lowry, shows amazing ingenuity and skill, and the music (by Alexandre Desplat, with the usual shuffle of well-chosen pop tunes, famous and obscure) is both eccentric and just right.[42]

According to Time, the film is "both a delightful amusement and a distillation of the filmmaker's essential playfulness"[43] and was one of the ten best films of the year.[44] Cosmo Landesman of The Sunday Times said "having a quirky auteur like Anderson make a children's film is a bit like David Byrne, of Talking Heads, recording an album of nursery rhymes produced by Brian Eno". According to Landesman:

In style and sensibility, this is really a Wes Anderson film, with little Dahl. It's missing the darker elements that characterize Dahl's books. There you find the whiff of something nasty: child abuse, violence, misogyny. Gone, too, is any sense of danger. Even the farmers, who are made to look a touch evil, don't seem capable of it. We never feel the tension of watching the Fox family facing real peril. The film certainly has Americanized Dahl's story, and I don't mean the fact that the good animals have American accents and the baddies have British ones. It offers yet another celebration of difference and a lesson on the importance of being yourself. But it does leave you thinking: isn't it time that children's films put children first?[45]

Amy Biancolli from the Houston Chronicle wrote:

Anderson injects such charm and wit, such personality and nostalgia—evident in the old-school animation, storybook settings and pitch-perfect use of Burl Ives—that it's easy to forgive his self-conscious touches.[46]

Ann Hornaday from The Washington Post calls it a:

Self-consciously quirky movie that manages to be twee and ultra-hip at the same time, it qualifies as yet another wry, carefully composed bibelot in the cabinet of curios that defines the Anderson oeuvre.[47]

Peter Howell from the Toronto Star stated:

In an age when everything seems digital, computer-driven and as fake as instant coffee, more and more artists (Spike Jonze and John Lasseter among them) are embracing the old ways of vinyl records, hand-drawn cartoons and painstaking stop-motion character movements.[48]

In 2011, Richard Corliss of Time magazine named it one of "The 25 All-Time Best Animated Films".[49]


The film was nominated for the 2010 Critics Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature,[50] the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film,[51] the 2010 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and Academy Award for Best Original Score.[52]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result
Academy Awards March 7, 2010 Best Animated Feature Wes Anderson Nominated
Best Original Score Alexandre Desplat Nominated
Annie Awards February 6, 2010 Best Animated Feature Wes Anderson Nominated
Directing in a Feature Production Wes Anderson Nominated
Writing in a Feature Production Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach Won
British Academy Film Awards February 15, 2010 Best Original Music Alexandre Desplat Nominated
Best Animated Film Wes Anderson Nominated
British Academy Children's Awards November 28, 2010 Feature Film Wes Anderson, Allison Abbate, Scott Rudin, Jeremy Dawson Nominated
Critics Choice Movie Awards January 15, 2010 Best Adapted Screenplay Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach Nominated
Best Animated Feature Wes Anderson Nominated
Golden Globe Awards January 15, 2010 Best Animated Feature Wes Anderson Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle December 14, 2009 Best Picture Wes Anderson 3rd Place
Best Animated Film Wes Anderson Won
Best Director Wes Anderson 2nd Place
Best Actor George Clooney (also for Up in the Air) Won
Online Film Critics Society January 5, 2010 Best Adapted Screenplay Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach Won
Best Animated Film Wes Anderson Nominated
Best Original Score Alexandre Desplat Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society December 15, 2009 Best Adapted Screenplay Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach Won
Best Animated Film Wes Anderson Nominated
Best Original Score Alexandre Desplat Nominated
San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle December 14, 2009 Best Adapted Screenplay Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach Won

It was also nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Syndicate of Cinema Critics. Alexandre Desplat won Soundtrack Composer of the Year and World Soundtrack of the Year at the 2010 World Soundtrack Awards.[53] On January 14, 2010, the National Board of Review awarded Anderson a Special Filmmaking Achievement award.[54]

After giving his acceptance speech, the audio of the speech was used in a short animation of Anderson's character (Weasel) giving the speech, animated by Payton Curtis, a key stop-motion animator on the film.[55]

See also


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