The Fantastic Mr. Fox Trailer: Who's to Blame For This?
In basic Trailer 101 terms, the new spot for The Fantastic Mr. Fox -- Wes Anderson's animated adaptation of the beloved Roald Dahl novel -- does almost everything it's supposed to do: Lists the great voice cast (George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray), showcases its unusual style in concert with Anderson's trademark dryness, and spiritedly, economically lays out a concise plot summary. So why do I feel like running away from it and the movie it's trying to sell?
Maybe it's because I feel like I'm in on Anderson's enduringly ironic tone yet I'm being narrated to like a child. ("This fall! Forget super! Ignore incredible! It's all about fantastic!!") Maybe it's the canned, mismatched musical accompaniment, from the first half's generic indie jangle to the R&B soundtrack clashing with the intimate dialogue toward the end. Maybe it's the disconnection of most of the images -- some of which do look inarguably great -- from any narrative context. (To wit, what's with all the dancing? And why is there a lab?) Maybe it's the radical shifts from cute to sexy to heavy to light to funny to "look how postmodern we are" winkiness. Or maybe it's just that it feels like the same old bundle of Andersonesque twee that the culture has been lugging around for the last decade.
And the worst part? The movie itself may be great -- just the right kind of risk-taking diversion Anderson's critics have been demanding all this time. Look at Mr. Fox's subtle slumping gesture when Badger cries out his expertise in explosives, and say Anderson and his animators weren't paying attention. But for everything that looks like it went into the film, how can 20th Century Fox not take the same meticulous care in cultivating its audience? I thought that was the point of trailers. (See: Serious Man, A) Sigh. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was anything but a letdown like this.
VERDICT: Try again, Fox -- and harder.