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Fantastic Mr. Fox

An animated caper gets the Wes Anderson treatment

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Leave it to the iconoclastic Anderson to break with the mad rush toward hyper-realistic animation. Instead, his adaptation of Roald Dahl's story fondly recalls the herky-jerky stop-motion puppet animation of decades ago.

Its hero is the titular Mr. Fox, a charmingly scruffy vulpine who rocks a wide-wade corduroy blazer. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) has given up his true calling -- stealing poultry -- for a family life with Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) and petulant son, Ash (Jason Schwartzmann). But Fox can't resist the temptation afforded by three nearby over-stocked farms -- and he hatches a plan to take them down.

Mr. Fox is primarily a caper film, complete with snappy dialogue, a ragtag crew of field creatures and a worthy adversary -- the meanest of the farmers, Mr. Bean (Michael Gambon). (It's a rompish movie aimed more at adults than kids, though most younger viewers should find it fun.)

Fans of Anderson's dysfunctional-family dramedies should be satisfied with familiar characterizations. Fox is a typical Anderson patriarch -- magnetic, persuasive, his easy glibness intentionally distancing. Ash pines for his father's attention, while hating his "perfect" cousin, Kristofferson (Eric Anderson). Add Bill Murray as the voice of a badger, a few artificially gorgeous sunsets and a handful of quirky pop tunes, and it's a bona fide Wes Anderson joint by way of glassy-eyed, stuffed animals. Conversely, those who despise Anderson's detached, self-conscious style and wink-wink coolness might want to give this foxhole a miss.

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