Wes Anderson’s wised-up children’s film, a labor-intensive stop-motion animated adaptation of the Roald Dahl animal tale (reportedly he never visited the London set, but directed from Paris by E-mail) about a vulpine sophisticate who moves up in the world — out of a hole and into a tree — but can’t escape his animal nature. (See him, for example, drop the act and rip into his food before regaining his composure: “Dinner was pitch-perfect.”) Though the droll result has its charms, such as the use of “cuss” as an all-purpose cussword, as in “I sure the cuss hope so,” it’s not so much for children as a group or adults as a group as it is specifically for devotees of Anderson, who is able to pursue with puppets and miniature sets his standard visual predilections: squared-up and flattened compositions, lateral action and tracking shots, a clump-clump editing rhythm. On the eclectic soundtrack (the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Wellingtons, Burl Ives), the director resorts to thievery from the film scores of Georges Delerue, like Scorsese in Casino, for the moments of peak emotion. With the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Eric Anderson, Bill Murray, Michael Gambon. (2009) — Duncan Shepherd
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