Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox Fantastic Mr. Fox on the Silver Screen

Fantastic Mr. Fox has been adapted four major times: in 1998 as an opera at the Los Angeles Opera, in 2001 for the stage and performed at the Belgrade Theater, in 2009 as a film by Wes Anderson, and in late 2016 as a musical that toured the UK.

The most famous of these adaptations has been the film adaptation by Wed Anderson, due both to the limitations of stage productions (which are generally only seen in person, though some recorded versions of stage plays and musicals reach a wider audience) and to the high quality of the direction, animation, and voice acting.

The cast of voice actors was star-studded, with the main roles voiced by George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, and Owen Wilson. The movie was award-winning director Wes Anderson's first animated movie, and it received critical success and accolades in the form of nominations for the Critics Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature, the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and the Academy Award for Best Original Score, all in 2010.

The movie differs from Dahl's original story to a large extent, from characters, to plot points, to major themes and conflicts. In the book, Mr. Fox's family consists of Mr. Fox, Mrs. Fox, and their three unnamed children, and the conflict of the story is between Mr. Fox and the farmers. Instead, in the movie, Mr. Fox has only one son named Ash who plays a much more prominent role; Ash feels threatened and jealous when his cousin Kristofferson Silverfox comes to live with his family. While a conflict does arise from Mr. Fox stealing food from the farmers, he does this in the movie for fun, rather than as a routine part of life, and Mrs. Fox disapproves of this. The resolution of the story comes from Ash and Kristofferson becoming friends and Mr. Fox leading his family to a drain in the floor of the supermarket owned by the three farmers, which will provide the family and many other starving animals in the area with food.

While critical reception generally lauded the film, some critics did note how far the movie diverged from Dahl's original story. For example, Cosmo Landesman of The Sunday Times wrote, "in style and sensibility, this is really a Wes Anderson film, with little Dahl. It’s missing the darker elements that characterise 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..."