Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

I am not a big fan of Roald Dahl, but – thanks largely to the talents of Johnny Depp – I did enjoy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

So I went to see Fantastic Mr. Fox tonight partly on the strength of that experience, and partly because it features so many A-list voiceovers.

The trouble is, I had forgotten that great Hollywood screen stars don’t necessarily add much to an animation simply by reading the dialogue. I suspect directors and producers know that too, but at the same time they know big names do persuade punters like me to part with cash at the box office.

This animation falls between many stools. Think quaint old-fashioned stop-motion in the style of, say, Corpse Bride but not as engagingly quirky or inventive. Or anthropomorphic fantasy which lacks the wit of, say, Wallace & Gromit films. (A comparison which is positively invited by the lifting of the motorbike and sidecar idea from Wallace and Gromit in A Close Shave.

Will it appeal to kids who are used to mind-boggling CGI? I doubt it. What about adults? Judging by the virtually empty cinema this evening, the answer has to be ‘No’.

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