Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach
Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe
"Everyone's different, him especially...but there's something kind of fantastic about that, isn't there?" Part talking-animal movie and part heist flick, the sixth feature from auteur (and personal idol) Wes Anderson tells the tale of the titular character (Clooney) who returns to his old life of chicken and cider thievery after promising his wife such behavior would end upon finding out she was pregnant.
Truth be told, I was a little worried about this film. Could the normally R-rated, live-action Anderson's style and quality translate to a PG stop-motion film? Thankfully, my fears were unfounded. There's loads of swearing in the film, but instead of anything inappropriate for little ears, they use the word "cuss" itself ("Are you cussing with me," etc). And despite the arguably hands-off directorial approach that Anderson took on the film (acting out the scenes himself in Paris and sending the video to his American animators), his attention to detail still rings through. Shockingly, the adult casting choices for child characters work well, and the animation itself has improved by leaps and bounds in the 50 years since the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials we all know and love. Above all else, Anderson and Baumbach were able to write a script encompassing Roald Dahl's original story, yet also including additional elements in the film's first and third acts to enhance the end product. This movie was a heartwarming, remarkable feat. Calling it "fantastic" might even be an understatement.