I attended a nighttime advance screening of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” back in 2009. Sitting to one side of me was a woman with a child. The woman, at a particular point, stated out loud how much she hated this movie. Clearly, that woman wasn’t into Wes Anderson fare, nor did she know that “Fox” really wasn’t made for kids.
Sitting to the other side of me was someone who seemed to be really enjoying everything… heavily laughing out loud throughout. I’m glad this person was into the film, but “Fox” also really wasn’t a comedy.
I really liked “Fox” when I saw it the first time, but I didn’t think it was perfect. I gave it a B+ in my initial review. However, as I was compiling my list of the Best Movies of 2009, I realized that it was the absolute best movie of the year – even better than Disney/Pixar’s “Up”.
On Jan. 2, 2010, I saw it again in a theater and liked it even more – glad that I gave it the No. 1 spot. But I still felt like it was missing something. And then, I watched it for a third time on a gorgeous Blu-Ray copy when the film was available in March. And during that third time, it hit me.
The scene that put my appreciation for “Fantastic Mr. Fox” over the top was a late exchange between Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) and a wolf. It’s a beautiful, powerful moment that solidifies all the film stands for.
Since then, I’ve seen “Fox” in parts on TV, probably totaling at least two more complete viewings. This is, without question, director Wes Anderson’s best movie and one of the Top 5 Animated Films of the 21st Century.
So, it should come as no surprise that I’m very excited to see “Isle of Dogs”, opening in select theaters this weekend. It’s Anderson’s first stop-motion animation effort since “Fox”, and from my first viewing of the first trailer, I noticed that some of the shots and lines of dialogue were nearly identical. We have another all-star cast and another quirky story, though unlike last time, not based on classic source material.
The Big Question: Will “Isle of Dogs” be top dog? It has to be simply tremendous to live-up to Anderson’s previous, truly “fantastic” film.