The Great Family Film Poll: The Fantastic Mr Fox

George Clooney voices the hero at the centre of Fantastic Mr Fox.
George Clooney voices the hero at the centre of Fantastic Mr Fox.

Rather than delving into the memorable movies of my childhood - the terrors of The Dark Crystal, the excitement of The Empire Strikes Back - I'm going to cheat a little here.

Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox is the film I'd most like families to enjoy together out of anything this side of The Force Awakens (and substantially less scary).

The pic includes some of my favourite memories of childhood - stop-motion animation; talking animals; the great Roald Dahl - but does so with a modern sensibility (albeit through the same melancholic, nostalgic lens as Anderson's live-action films).

Fantastic Mr. Fox also benefits from elements I love as an adult moviegoer. It's the idea of an auteur that may have seemed crazy on paper, and even more difficult to execute, when second (or even sadder, third) rate CGI drivel is churned out of servers the world over. And it brings the oddball artistic sensibilities and compulsively-conveyed themes of the OCD Anderson to bear on a family favourite much more successfully than Spike Jonze managed to do with Where The Wild Things Are.

But mostly, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a magnificent family film for some pretty simple reasons - it's the fun, adventurous and sometimes frightening tale of an extended family of adorably cute woodland creatures.

The bonds of familial love they share are what the characters can draw on, along with clever craftiness, when going up against the nasty human farmers of the pic, and help to make this not just a film that the whole family can enjoy, but they can in particular enjoy together.

Am I pushing things I love from my childhood on kids here? Absolutely. But they're much less likely to roll their eyes at a film made in the last decade than something from the early 80s.

Bonus - George Clooney plays a fox (calm down ladies, not that kind of fox).

- Steve Newall, editor

- NZ Herald

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