November 23, 2009 12:00 PM

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Voices by George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Eric Anderson, Bill Murray | PG |


Just as Kevin Costner is at his best in baseball movies, so George Clooney is at his most roguishly appealing when playing accomplished thieves. Think Ocean’s Eleven and Out of Sight, and now add Fantastic Mr. Fox to the list. In this delightful adaptation of a Roald Dahl children’s book by director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums), Clooney saunters through vocally as Mr. Fox, a specialist at burgling chicken farms.

Mr. Fox is as sly, and as sartorially resplendent, a fox as you’ll ever meet. At the behest of his eminently sensible wife (Streep, warmly wonderful), he reforms his thieving ways until temptation beckons in the form of three nearby farms filled with tasty delicacies. When the farmers retaliate, Mr. Fox must use his animal cunning to save his family and other furry friends.

This slender story is told with droll wit, clever staging and doll house charm thanks to Fox’s use of old-fashioned, stop-motion animation. Fred, 9, my consultant on kids’ films, leaned over every 10 minutes to whisper, “This is great!” He’ll get no argument from me.

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