Fantastic Mr. Fox

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"Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean.
These horrible crooks,
So different in looks,
Were none the less equally mean!"

Fantastic Mr. Fox is an animated family film centered upon the eponymous character's attempt to go straight, renouncing his chicken-stealing ways. It is filmed in stop motion as director Wes Anderson's first foray into animation. Including an all star cast, it has reviewed well, containing Wes Anderson's indie mannerism and introspective tone, along with real charm and his trademark dysfunctional family.

Based on the story of the same name by Roald Dahl, but greatly expands upon its premise, focusing upon Mr. Fox's family's dynamic, and the town's attempt to outwit the farmers.


Tropes used in Fantastic Mr. Fox include:
  • 108: The combined workforce of the three farms.
  • The Ace: Kristofferson, a fox kid who seemingly can do no wrong, much to Ash's frustration who sees everyone, including his own father, belittling him in comparison. Subverted in that Kris is a soft-spoken nice guy who, while he will not hide his talents, never wanted to embarrass his cousin. Ash finally realizes that when he is harassed by a bully and Kris kicks that bully's ass in his cousin's defense. Furthermore, when Kris gets captured, Ash helps rescue him and impresses everyone to his own talents, allowing the kids to fully make peace and become friends.
  • Actor Allusion: Mr. Fox is a charming thief played by George Clooney.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Mr. Fox only has one child for most of the movie. He has four in the book.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The book ends after the animals have made their secret tunnels to the farms while the farmers keep watch outside the hole. The movie adds another two or three parts of the battle.
    • Though it adds more scenes the ending is still a nearly identical scenario to the original only it occurs a few scenes later. No doubt to avoid the movie being too short.[1]
  • Alas, Poor Villain: In-universe example. All the animals are saddened by the death of Rat, even Fox himself (who dealt the killing blow), despite his being the traitorous head of security for farmer Bean. In fairness, Rat did manage to come to his senses at last in his few final moments when he revealed that he had turned traitor because he had become too addicted to the apple cider of Bean.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Partly. Though it made her regret marrying him, Felicity can't help falling for his "fantastic" wild animal nature.
  • All There in the Manual: Fans of the book may gripe at the liberties taken with the plot, but a lot of them were in fact taken from Dahl's own manuscripts of alternative plot possibilities, which were used because the plot as published didn't extend well to feature length.
    • Such examples of a director/adaptor's respect for the original author/material is rare in the history of movie adaptations.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Ash, who is called "different" (with associated wavy hand motions) by everybody around him, dresses like a girl according to Beaver's son, and is extremely fussy... and he's seen with markings that resemble eyeliner. Not to mention the grape juice "lipstick" he sports near the end of the film.
    • Averted, in a way, that he likes Agnes.
  • Animal Nemesis: The farmers' obsession with destroying the eponymous fox and the effort they put in to achieve it is simply outstanding overkill.
  • Author Appeal: Wes Anderson shoehorned the subplot of the son and his friend to include his favorite theme of family alienation.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: One of the central themes of the film, drives the central emotional conflict of the film.
    • Played straighter at the very end of the film.
  • Badass Boast: "Your tractors uprooted my tree. Your posse hunted my family. Your gunmen kidnapped my nephew. Your rat insulted my wife -- and you shot off my tail.(steely) I’m not leaving here without that necktie."
    • Subverted almost immediately afterward when the farmer's workforce replies with a hail of bullets. "Okay, nevermind, let's get out of here."
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animals: Almost all of the animal characters.
    • The One Who Wears Shoes: Kris, Coach Skip, and Beaver's son are the only animal characters in the entire movie to wear shoes.
  • Berserk Button: Bean does not like the idea of giving up against a fox.
  • Best Beer Ever:

Mr. Fox: This is some of the strongest, finest alcoholic cider money can buy. It burns in your throat, boils in your stomach, and tastes almost exactly like pure melted gold.

  • Beware the Nice Ones: Kristofferson is a soft-spoken fox kit, but if you dare bully his cousin, Ash, you are in for a world of hurt with only the mercy being attacked shoeless to avoid breaking your muzzle.
    • The equally quiet Mrs. Fox also permanently scars her husband in a fit of anger, threatens Rat with a length of padlocked chain, and proves to be pretty handy with improvised explosives.

"Con-TACT!"

  • Be Yourself: Deconstructed. Mrs. Fox forcing her husband to not Be Himself is what kicks off the plot, and his Snap Back has fairly dramatic consequences, including her regretting their marriage. The benefit of following this trope is ambiguous.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Boggis, Bunce and Bean (One fat, one short, one lean).
  • Bishonen: Kristofferson is somewhat like the fox version of this, with a tall, thin build (perfect for Waif Fu), light-colored fur, and a soft-spoken Celibate Hero.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Best emphasized by Mr. Fox's toast. While earlier he was toasting to their victory, at the end he simply toasts to their survival.
    • Of course. It's away from predators and it's within walking distance of an endless food supply, which is so massive that the meager amounts of food needed to feed everyone would easily go unnoticed. It makes perfect sense. They're actually better off than they were before.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Ash is actually older than his cousin, but fits this trope to a T, at least until character development kicks in.
  • The Cameo: Wes Anderson as Weasel, Owen Wilson as Coach Skip, Mario Batali as Chef Rabbit and Adrien Brody as Rickity the Field Mouse.
  • Calvin Ball: Averted with Whackbat. All the rules are explained.
  • Catch Phrase: Mr Fox's trademark whistle~* clickclick*
    • Poor Kylie tries to develop his own, but it doesn't catch on as easily.
  • Celebrity Voice Actor: George Clooney, Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, Jason Schwartzman.
    • Several of whom are regular American Empirical players.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted with Mrs. Bean. Kris comments on her poor eyesight early on, and she seems to completely miss Kris and Ash when they've snuck into her kitchen. Then she grabs the knife and wheels around...
    • Played straight with Mrs. Fox's beautiful painting skills and the fiery, uber-confusing sport Whackbat.
    • The portrait in Badger's law office seems to show him during a prior career with the military, which might explain his skill with explosions, flames and burning things.
    • The information about beagles.
    • A small gag regarding "spring loaded" traps (which drop away from where they're triggered).
  • Chekhov's Skill: "Plus he knows karate." - a random observation Mr.Fox makes about Kristofferson, which obviously has some part to play later in the film.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Kylie is a mild case.
  • Command Roster: Played with and one of the film's aesops, with each individual special skills highlighted, and even takes on a vaguely military overtone for the final act. Contains the obligatory My Friends and Zoidberg.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: Mr. Fox - The rest of his family have personalities distinct from this.
  • Cultural Translation: The Americanized voices/accents on the animal characters and British voices/accents on the human characters add contrast between their two parallel societies.
  • Cut and Paste Note: The farmers and the animals each send the other side a cut and paste note, despite the fact that they already know each other's identities. They hang a lampshade by having each side ask aloud why the other did this.
  • Cussed By Faint Praise:

Ash: I'm getting better at [whackbat], right?
Coach Skip: Well, you're sure as cuss not getting any worse.

  • Dance Party Ending: The movie ends with the foxes and Kylie dancing in the supermarket to the tune of The Bobby Fuller Four's Let Her Dance.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Discussed with Rat. He did help them out, but he was still just another dead rat in a dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant.
  • Delicious Distraction: Drives the plot of the film.
  • Emo Teen: Ash before the Character Development. Admit it.
  • Evil Brit: Literally every bad-guy has a British accent, and every good guy a generic American one, with the exception of Rat, who has a Cajun accent.
    • To be fair, the film most likely takes place in the UK, as evidenced by the presence of a right-hand-drive car.
  • Evil Tastes Good: In this case, the food the evil farmers make tastes good.
  • Fat Bastard: Boggis.
  • Fantastic Foxes
  • Food Porn: Despite the feast obviously being fabricated, it still looked delicious. Also the cider cellar in all its golden glory.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: At least on the animals (and it looks just a bit weird).
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Mr. Fox's "Fox About Town"/"Fox on the Prowl" newspaper articles. The former mentions his phobia of wolves before it's brought up.
  • Funny Background Event: During the ambush, you can see a graffiti saying CUSS!
  • Furry Confusion: So you have a dazzling array of anthropomorphic animals who act exactly like humans (and can converse with them!) but are treated like animals by the humans, despite driving motorbikes and the like. And then you have the actual birds which they eat. Maybe just mammals are intelligent? But then you have the farmers' dogs and horses and the wolf who looks like an actual wolf.
    • Actually deconstructed somewhat. The plot of the film is ultimately driven by the conflict between Mr. Fox's human lifestyle, and his fox instincts. In one scene Mr. Fox speechifies about the value of all the animals' dual identities.
    • Also played for laughs, particularly in the scene where Mr. Fox and Badger are arguing in the office.
      • Don't forget his eating manners at the dinner table.
    • This is ultimately the main theme of the movie, and Mr. Fox's inner conflict between his desire to be more like a "wild animal" and his comfortable suburban life is what drives the entire storyline. The film's catharsis comes during the scene where Mr. Fox finally learns how to make peace with his double nature through his encounter with an *actual* wild animal.
  • Furry Fandom: Described in initial fandom buzz as "A Furry Oceans 11!" That buzz seems to have dissipated upon seeing Wes' Woolseyism with the story, somewhat.
  • A Glass of Chianti: Rat is sipping from a jug of hard cider when he first appears. Farmer Bean also qualifies, naturally.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Ash wears printed briefs.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The camera pans down to the lower level of the chicken coop as Mr. Fox kills Kylie's chicken for him.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: Instead of a Sound Effect Bleep, the characters literally say "cuss" in the place of swearing. Is a very clever variation of Getting Cuss Past The Radar. Examples:

"You cussin' with me?!"
"Are you out of your cussing mind?!"
"You scared the cuss out of us!!"
"I sure as cuss hope so."
"What the cuss are you doing?"
"Cluster cuss"
"What the swearing cuss?!"

  • Hot Mom: Mrs. Fox is apparently this in-universe for the animal characters.
  • How Do You Like Them Apples?: Mr. Fox is shown biting into an apple at the beginning of the film, shortly before getting trapped and setting off the plot.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Subverted. The only humans portrayed in a negative light are the three greedy and incredibly wealthy farmers, and even then, Bean is the only farmer who is really evil.
    • Bean also has the tunnel vision, intense focus, and general demeanor of a violent alcoholic with a hair trigger. Plausible for someone who is said to live on his own hard cider.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The farmers and snipers shoot away the wooden crates the gang is hiding behind until they are outlined, then Ash runs a gauntlet while they fire enough ammo at him to supply the Normandy Invasion.
  • Improbable Food Budget: Mrs. Fox knows the pantry shouldn't be that full. Suspicion Ensues.
  • Infant Immortality: There's not really any good reason for the farmers to keep Kris alive once they get a recording of him... but hey, they aren't totally evil. On the other hand, Kris was a prime hostage, as Mr. Fox was the one they really wanted.
    • And the fact that they tried to pass off a tape recording as him suggests they never intended to let him go, and would probably kill him once they had no further use.
  • Jabba Table Manners, Subverted: All of the animals eat like wild animals, but all act like civilized individuals.
  • Just Eat Him:

Mr. Fox: I told you: kill it with one bite!
Kylie: I'm trying! My teeth don't work like yours.

  • Kill It with Water: Or in this case cider, effectively combining this trope with Libation for the Dead.
  • Knife Nut: Rat carries a switchblade.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Both sides comment quizzically on the notes cut out of magazines, sent to each other.
    • Also, "I'm picking up a high-frequency radio signal with a can!"
  • Lean and Mean: Bean.
  • Leitmotif: Rat. Definitely Rat. With gratuitous finger-snapping.
    • There is also "Kristofferson's Theme" and "Mr. Fox in the Field", which get bonus points for having similar harmony and instruments. Musically, they reenforce the conflict between Mr. Fox, Ash - his natual son who is "different" - and Kristofferson - the son he would prefer.
  • Loveable Rogue: Mr Fox plays this archetype oh so straight. Especially when Fridge Logic kicks in. Also acts as a deconstruction, he constantly needs to be the centre of attention, disappointed if he doesn't leave others awestruck. This leads to his compulsion which nearly tears his family apart and gets them killed.
  • Masochist's Meal:

Beaver's son: Your dad got us into this mess, that's why you're going to pick some this mud up off the ground and eat it.

  • Meaningful Background Event: Rat is visible in the background behind Mr. Fox for about a minute before he announces his presence. While not as dramatic, the helicopter that's been puttering back and forth throughout the movie also counts.
  • Midlife Crisis House: The tree that Mr. Fox can't really afford is one of these, a way to avoid feeling "poor".
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Heavily implied that before she settled down with Mr. Fox, Mrs. Fox very much averted this.

Kylie: (In response to a comment made by Rat) The town tart?
Fox: Shut up.

Badger: Demolitions expert!
Mr. Fox: What?! Since when?!

  • Nice Guy: Kylie, the opossum. As Mr. Fox puts it, his special skill is "being available."
  • No Kill Like Overkill: The farmers bring way, way more ammunition and digging equipment than they ought to need. But still not quite enough to get more than Mr. Fox's tail.
  • No Smoking/Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted in place of Smoking Is Cool (see below). In fact, when one character confuses containers of very hard cider for apple juice, his error is enthusiastically corrected by others.
  • Off the Wagon: Actually stated by Mr. Fox when he's apologizing to his wife about stealing birds again. Has nothing to do with the tobacco or alcohol in the film.
  • One-Dimensional Thinking: Down, until the siege.
  • One Last Job: Narrative basis of the story, exact words used. Goes about as well as expected.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Owen Wilson's character of Coach Skip functions as this, appearing apparently only to explain (if at all) the rules of Whackbat.
  • Phrase Catcher: Ash. He's... *spastic arm gesturing* different.
  • Pre Cuss Kicking One Liner: Subverted. Though Mr. Fox makes a speech to the farmers that could definitely qualify as one, it ultimately ends in him cowering in fear as they open fire on him.

Mr. Fox: Your tractors uprooted my tree. Your posse hunted my family. Your gunmen kidnapped my nephew. Your rat insulted my wife... and YOU shot off my tail. I'm not leaving here without that neck-tie!

    • Kristofferson has one before beating the cuss out of beaver's son.

Beaver's Son: Why'd you take your shoes off?
Kristofferson: So I don't break your nose when I kick it.

  • Prisoner Exchange: Neither side has any intention of keeping up their end of the bargain.
  • Product Placement: Badger has an Apple computer in his office.
  • Psycho for Hire: Rat is employed as Bean's security guard over the cider cellar. As he's dying, he reveals he originally took the job for the cider rather than the thrill of fighting off and catching intruders.
  • Pyromaniac / Mad Bomber: Badger, who is a lawyer.

Explosions! Flames! Burning things!

  • Retraux: Blatantly so. Much of the animation takes inspiration from early pioneers of stop motion, such as Willis O'Brian and Ray Harryhausen, and they even intentionally add imperfections to the fur, which is similar to a more unintentional instance in King Kong.
  • Rule of Three: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean.
  • Running Gag:
    • Kylie's eyes.
    • Mr. Fox and Kylie's "I hate wolves/I hate thunder" and Ash's "I'm an athlete, you know".
    • The bandit hats as well.
    • The cussing.
  • Scars Are Forever: Mr Fox's tail becomes detachable, permanently. Also the cut Mrs. Fox gives him that remains throughout the film.
  • Second Face Smoke: Present if a little modified in Mr Bean's critique of a freestyle song.
  • Shout-Out: One of the songs is from another animated film with foxy leads, Disney's Robin Hood. There's also nods to that other caper movie where George Clooney's character gives up his thievery to be with his wife, only to fall back into it and put everyone in danger.
    • There's also one to Rebel Without a Cause: During one of Mr. and Mrs. Fox's arguments, Kylie appears wearing a red blanket, quoting Dean's famous speech "You say one thing, he says another, and everybody changes back again!", only missing the infamous "You're tearing me apart!".
    • The shop outside which Fox and Kylie steal the motorbike is called Padington Cycles.
    • Mr. Fox's whistle is the same as Hawkeye Pierce's.
    • "Beagles love blueberries" is a fairly obvious reference to the same drugging technique in 'Danny', another of Dahl's books. (Pheasants love raisins.)
  • Showdown At High Noon: Referenced in the exchange.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Throughout the film characters smoke which lends that neat film noir lighting in the dark effect, as well as characters drinking and referring to alcohol in a positive fashion.
    • On the other hand, the two characters with the most smoking scenes are undeniably villains, with the smoking used to heighten the visual tension. Likewise, Mister Fox's desire for the hard cider "that tastes like melted gold" is the thing that directly leads to many extremely bad things that happen to him and everyone he knows. One could argue the portrayal of both luxuries evens out to neutral.
    • Not to mention Rat's cider addiction which is depicted as anything but positive. His senses are so far gone by his death scene that a mouthful of stagnant oil is indistinguishable from Bean's cider. He even delivers a tragic Ironic Echo of Mr Fox's ("melted gold") description before he dies.
  • Stealth Pun: Fox steps on a box of soap for a toast.
  • The Stoic: Boggis and Bunce, especially Bunce, whose sour expression never changes once. Bean tries to be like this, but he has a violent temper that comes out more than once.
  • Supreme Chef: Rabbit, voiced by Mario Batali.
  • Take Me Instead!: Mr. Fox at first decides to hand himself in to save the others -- until he hears his son, who is being kidnapped by Rat, cry for help.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Rat seems to consider himself this, though how much the third requirement actually applies is questionable.
  • Time Skip: The intro is two years (twelve fox years) before the rest of the film.
  • Title Drop: "I think I have this thing where I need to have everyone think I'm the greatest... the quote unquote 'Fantastic Mr. Fox.'"
    • Dropped again at the end by Felicity.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Mr. Fox gets carried away sometimes. Examining the anti-fox trap the farmer's set up? Trying to make friends with the rabid dog, after your companions have already gotten away? Edging into this trope.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Boggis - chicken; Bunce - homemade doughnuts with smashed up goose livers injected into them; Bean - strong alcoholic apple cider.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer shows off pretty much the entire ending in the supermarket.
  • Tunnel King
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: Time in the film is often measured in both human and fox measurements (e.g. two human years is equal to twelve fox years).
  • The Unfavourite: Ash considers himself this, seeing himself inferior to his athletic and more popular cousin, and his father's attitude towards said cousin doesn't help. Which leads to Bratty Half-Pint (see above).
  • Unusual Euphemism: Throughout the movie, every possible cuss word that could have been possibly used is literally replaced with the word 'cuss'. Leads to a very funny moment when the word is seen grafittied on a city wall.
  • Verbal Tic: Fox tries to force one.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Bean's response to finding out the animals had managed to rob all three farmers blind when the farmers thought they had them on the ropes.
  • Villainous Glutton: All three farmers, but especially Boggis, who eats three chickens for every square meal of the day (plus dessert).
  • Villain's Dying Grace: Rat's last action is to reveal where Kristofferson is being held.
  • Visual Pun: When Mr. Fox says his wife is positively glowing, he means it.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ash spends a fair part of the movie walking around in his underwear.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Ash in relation to his father.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: A running theme: one of the main sources of humor in the movie is the characters being dramatically intense about random things. It especially runs in the Fox family - Mr. Fox and Ash do this lot.
  • Whole Costume Reference: Mr. Fox's suit was designed after and made from the actual material of one of Wes Anderson's own suit.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Ash enjoys wearing a feminine wool sweater and a lacy cape.
  • Wingding Eyes: Kylie's eyes will change to spirals when he zones out. When the dogs and Boggis pass out (or something like it), their eyes turn into asterisks. The dead poultry and Rat have X's for eyes.
  • Written in Infirmity: Meryl Streep had a cold while recording, which is alluded to in the beginning when Mr. Fox asks how Felicity's visit to the doctor went.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Kylie and Mr. Fox's skeletons show through when they climb the electric fence. So does Rat's during his fight with Mr. Fox in the underground transformer room.

The book has examples of: (in addition to others above)[edit | hide | hide all]

"No chance at all" snapped Mrs Fox. "I refuse to let you go up there and face those guns. I'd sooner you stay down here and die in peace."

  • Just Like Robin Hood: The plot to steal from the farmers after the siege begins. Never mind that they were stealing things before the farmers set themselves against the hill—which makes the line about "decent peace-loving people" rather jarring.
  • Title Drop

Mrs. Fox: I should like you to know that if it wasn't for your father we should all be dead by now. Your father is a fantastic fox.

    • And a couple of other places.
  1. Dahl's first draft of the book also ended with the foxes finding a supermarket to steal from, but it was rejected for being "too easy" a solution and implying it's OK to steal from shops. The movie fixes the former by sticking the book's solution partway through the movie and the latter by making the supermarket owned by the farmers.