The crooked of mind do not prosper,
and the perverse of tongue fall into calamity.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
George Clooney and Meryl Streep lend their voices to Wes Anderson’s first animated film, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel. Mr. Fox is much more of a rogue in the film, stealing chickens, turkeys, and cider from the three near-by farmers with no qualms of conscience, and desiring more spacious living quarters than his cramped underground lair provides. Looking to improve his living conditions, he moves his family from their underground burrow to a treetop abode from which they can see the three farms that provide the source of their food.
Although Mr. Fox has promised to his wife to mend his ways, he agrees to help his opossum friend (Wally Wolodarsky) in “one last” job (where have we heard that before?). Their thievery so arouses the three humans, curiously named Boggis, Bunce, and Bean (played by in respective order Robin Hurlstone, Hugo Guinness, and Michael Gambon) that they mount an all-out campaign to exterminate the pests who raid their farms. Although Mr. Fox outsmarts them at first, some of the episodes ending like those in the old Roadrunner and Bugs Bunny cartoons, the humans persevere, finally bringing in earthmoving machinery for digging and mounting 1 24/7 watch on the hole. This reduces not only the Fox family to near starvation, but also other animals as well. But of course, our hero is not dubbed “Fantastic” for nothing.
There is a subplot that children will appreciate involving a cousin who comes to live with them and how his near perfect behavior creates problems for their son Ash, who knows that he is far from perfect. Although parents of small children would do well to check out the film first, most children should be able to handle the scary parts and to enter into a discussion of the ethical issues raised by some of Mr. Fox’s allies.
1. What do you think of Mr. Fox? How is he similar to the typical human suburbanite? What do you think of his morals? How is he himself responsible for many of the problems that his raids on the farms causes?
2. How does Mrs. Fox play the typical housewife role of conscience and deflate in regard to her husband?
3. Why does Ash feel inferior? How is this dealt with in the film?
4. How are the 3 humans like those encountered by such cartoon characters as Bugs Bunny?
5. When planning his campaign against the three enemies Mr. Fox asks each animal what they can do. What do the various animals reply? How does each “gift” contribute to the success of the plan? The apostle Paul is writing about spiritual gifts, but how are the two similar in their outcome?