Song of the Day #4,833: ‘Heroes and Villains’ – The Beach Boys

Continuing my assessment of the career of writer/director Wes Anderson, I’ve arrived at 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. This was Anderson’s first adaptation and his first animated film.

Coming on the heels of The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited, both of which received lukewarm critical receptions, Fantastic Mr. Fox was greeted as a comeback and return to form for the auteur. It boasts a Rotten Tomatoes score in the mid-90s and grossed $47 million.

Given his obsession with managing the contents of every frame, it seems inevitable that Anderson would try his hand at animation. The stop-motion style, in particular, is a perfect fit for his dollhouse aesthetic. And he certainly does the most with it here, filling this world of mischievous mammals with smart, funny details.

Based on the book by Roald Dahl, the story follows Mr. Fox’s exploits as he faces off against a trio of mean farmers, and the resulting danger to his family and the rest of the burrowing animals under his tree.

The film is largely faithful to Dahl’s story, save for a few scenes fleshing out Mr. Fox’s backstory and the addition of Kristofferson, a nephew taken in by the Fox family. Kristofferson’s rivalry with Mr. Fox’s awkward son Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) is among the film’s highlights.

George Clooney and Meryl Streep, newcomers to Anderson’s repertoire, do beautiful work as the central couple. This children’s movie has a lot to say about the responsibility of a spouse and parent, and what it means to either suppress or embrace your true nature.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is full of sly and winning touches, like the way the sophisticated animals revert to form when tearing through a meal, or the way they say “cuss” instead of cussing, or the way Mrs. Fox glows as if a lightbulb was turned on inside her after revealing her pregnancy.

The actors’ performances were captured on location and in groups, contrary to the practice of isolating each voice performer in a studio. If a plane flew overhead while recording a good take, Anderson would add a plane in the background of the scene.

So many animated films feel like they’re stamped out from the same template but this is the rare one that bears its director’s stamp as clearly as any of his live-action films.

[Verse 1: Brian Wilson]
I’ve been in this town so long that back in the city
I’ve been taken for lost and gone
And unknown for a long long time
Fell in love years ago
With an innocent girl
From the Spanish and Indian home
Of the heroes and villains

[Verse 2: Brian Wilson]
Once at night catillian squared the fight
And she was right in the rain of the bullets that eventually brought her down
But she’s still dancing in the night
Unafraid of what a dude’ll do in a town full of heroes and villains

[Chorus: Brian Wilson]
Heroes and villains
Just see what you’ve done
Heroes and villains
Just see what you’ve done

[Verse 3: Brian Wilson]
Stand or fall I know there
Shall be peace in the valley
And it’s all an affair
Of my life with the heroes and villains
[Bridge – Wordless Vocals]

[Verse 4: Brian Wilson]
My children were raised
You know they suddenly rise
They started so long ago
Head to toe, healthy, wealthy and wise

[Verse 5: Brian Wilson]
I’ve been in this town so long
So long to the city
I’m fit with the stuff
To ride in the rough
And sunny down snuff I’m alright
By the heroes and

[Chorus: Brian Wilson]
Heroes and villains
Just see what you’ve done
Heroes and villains
Just see what you’ve done

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,833: ‘Heroes and Villains’ – The Beach Boys

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I remember seeing this in the theater and being exceedingly bored and struggling to stay awake. Beyond that, I will refrain from further opinion.😀

  2. Peg says:

    I never saw this one. I tend to skip animated movies. But your description and the amazing actors who play the characters have me very interested. I shall be on the lookout if it shows up! And I love Roald Dahl

  3. Amy says:

    Unlike Dana, I remember enjoying this film in the theater, but have never seen it since. I may prefer Anderson’s style as a director in an animated film, so I really do need to see Isle of Dogs one of these days. And I should revisit Fox, too.

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