Oct 09

The Fantastic Stop Motion Jarvis Cocker

FT5 comments • 533 views

Whatever I found whimsical and interesting about Wes Anderson’s early films (mainly Rushmore to be fair) had worn its welcome remarkably thin by the the time The Darjeeling Limited came around. They were always nice to look at, and the soundtracks were fun but the parade of actors I usually quite like being dull and self obsessed was enough to drive me mad. So I went to see The Fantastic Mr Fox expecting to be a wee bit irritated by it, but looking forward to some hopefully competent stop motion animation.

All I can say is, its a golden age for kids films. Alongside Up, and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, The Fantastic Mr Fox makes it possible for kids to believe that every film ever released will be great. It appears that by making an adaptation, making a kids film, and probably making a laborious stop-motion film has released the best in Wes. He even manages to make George Clooney at his smuggest sound fun and funny. What often comes across as laboured quirkiness in his live action films fit in perfectly in this hand tooled world. Anderson after all makes sure that the predominant font in his films is Futura, a remarkably twee touch in live action, a piece of perfectly sensible set design in animation. This is a world of talking animals, font fascism is neither here nor there.

Basically the beauty of the Fantastic mr Fox can be boiled down to its use of Jarvis Cocker. Anderson has often stuck anachronistic musicians in his films, and Cocker, off the boil and aging certainly fits the bit. And a model of Cocker, playing Petey one of the villains henchmen could be a bit too precious to be true. It certainly adds Cocker to short list of musicians who have been portrayed by puppets (Cliff Richard Jnr and The Shadows Jnr in Thunderbirds Are Go being the finest example). And as Cocker capers mid film for a short song in the honour of the Fox, it could have been remarkably self indulgent. But instead its a remarkably silly song, performed with gusto and ends with a wonderful takedown by Michael Gambon, who says its not very good. And he’s right. The song isn’t that good. But its lively, fun and funny. And by pushing these traits to the front, The Fantastic Mr Fox becomes Wes Anderson’s best film and a welcome addition to the increasing number of cinematic Dahl adaptations.

Though there will be a porn version called the Fantastic Mr Fucks.


  1. 1
    swanstep on 25 Oct 2009 #

    Anderson has often stuck anachronistic musicians in his films
    Huh? Are you referring to people on his soundtrack? His only musican actor I can think of off hand is Seu Jorge in Life Aquatic (who was unknown to me at the time). And supposing you are referring to the soundtrack, well, really, aren’t all of Anderson’s films set some in some blurry post-’70s (post-‘Day for night’ really) anytime? All of Nico, Who, Creation, Ramones etc. just feels contemporary to that surely? Nothing’s *at all* like putting ‘We will rock you’ in medieval times, or whatever. What am I missing here?

    Glad to hear this movie is good… one would expect Pixar, Ghibli, and Aardman to force all others in the field to lift their games, but it’s still a wonderful thing to see that actually happen. If only mainstream film for adults was in anything like the same shape.

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 25 Oct 2009 #

    Fair cop, anachronistic is not what I mean here, and as you say Seu Jorge or indeed Jarvis Cocker aren’t completely unexpected in a Wes Anderson film. Perhaps I am trying to identify that thing he does with his soundtracks where they are more noticeable than usual, and seem to comment on the film. There is something odd about hearing The Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones in a kids film which leans heavily on views of an autumnal rural England, but they are not exactly obscure or anachronistic.

    There are still plenty of lousy kids films out there, but the last few weeks have been outstanding.

  3. 3
    swanstep on 25 Oct 2009 #

    Thanks for the clarification. At any rate, it does sound like the new movie brings out something fanciful about Anderson’s soundtracks.
    Not everyone has been enamored of Anderson’s s/tracks in the past, e.g., Bonnie Prince billy/Will Oldham complains loudly here.

  4. 4
    Matt on 26 Oct 2009 #

    It hasn’t been released stateside yet, so I haven’t seen it. But I read the soundtrack listing. The Stones are kinda expected but Burl Ives???!? How’d that work?

    I wonder if the Petey character mooned at Mr. Fox as well. Anyway, the gayporn version of this film is entitled Fantastic Mr. Foxxx, starring Jarvis Cockmaster.

  5. 5
    Mark M on 16 Nov 2009 #

    Heroes & Villains – a song I love deeply – does sound completely out of place and purely random. On the other hand, the Bobby Fuller Four song at the end, which is notionally every bit as out of place, works really well.

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