Saturday, November 14, 2009


Although I'm glad Wes Anderson makes the kind of movies he does, I typically consider him to be overrated as a writer/director. I've always thought of him as more of a production designer---and a damn good one at that. When it comes to stringing together a narrative, however, the final result often leaves me a little bit empty...somehow wishing he'd sacrificed a little bit of his "style" and quirkiness for something that, well, works. And such is the complicated relationship I have with Wes Anderson, one made even more awkward by the fact that so many of my friends adore everything he touches. I understand their adoration, I just don't agree with them. Even more confusing is that the The Life Aquatic, the film most of his fans consider to be his worst by far, is a film I actually found to be a bit underrated and misunderstood. That may have something to do with that film's script being co-written by Noah Baumbach, the writer/director behind Kicking and Screaming, my all-time favorite movie (he also did The Squid and the Whale).

I saw Anderson's latest offering last night, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and at long last Anderson delivers on his enormous potential for greatness. There's little doubt this is a Wes Anderson film...even though it's filmed in stop-animation. It has all of his stylized trademarks, but there's a certain restraint he shows which I've not previously seen. It's flat-out brilliant. Perhaps it's because the source material is a Roald Dahl book, or perhaps it's because Noah Baumbach once again co-wrote the adapted screenplay, or perhaps it's because he's only having to direct voice talent this time, or perhaps it's because he's just matured as a filmmaker. Whatever the reason, this is the best Wes Anderson movie yet...and a strong candidate for best movie of the year. George Clooney is pitch-perfect as Mr. Fox, but everyone else in the cast manages to carve out their own unique character, too. The film is equal parts smart and sweet without ever sacrificing the dry wit and sly humor we've come to expect from Anderson and Baumbach.

I've always wanted to like Wes Anderson movies as much as all my friends do. And now, at least for awhile, I can.


Blogger JMW said...

You have friends who "adore everything he touches"? Wow. I am going to see this one. But even though I like Baumbach, I've always agreed with this piece, which argues that Anderson started going downhill when he lost Owen Wilson as a writing partner:

November 14, 2009 at 4:01 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home