Fantastic Mr. Fox | Inspired by a jaunty picture book of the same name by Roald Dahl, exuberant miniaturist Wes Anderson brings a family of little handmade animal figurines…

STARRING George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray
WRITTEN BY Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach
DIRECTED BY Wes Anderson

Since it’s technically a stop-motion-animated kids’ movie, this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book would seem to be a major departure for Wes Anderson, best known for his funny-sad stories of eccentric dreamers (The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou) and alienated families (The Royal Tenenbaums). But Anderson approached Mr. Fox as if he were making a live-action ensemble film. ”There are things in this that you don’t typically find in animated films, like characters cutting each other off and being really raw and human,” says Jason Schwartzman, who voices the pint-size son of Mr. and Mrs. Fox (George Clooney and Meryl Streep) in a story about a family of foxes digging their way out of trouble when local farmers set out to get rid of them. Anderson, a big Dahl fan, modeled Mr. Fox on the notoriously prickly author himself. ”I always saw him as Dahl,” says the director. ”He has this darkness about him.”

Anderson refused to pander to children — or the conventions of animated filmmaking. He bypassed the usual recording booths for real locations such as a farm in Connecticut. ”Rather than having perfect technical recordings,” says Anderson, ”I wanted to have the actors in a place where maybe they’re inspired by the atmosphere.” According to Schwartzman, those instincts were dead-on. ”Wes not only makes movies, but he makes real experiences for the people making them,” says the actor. ”How often do you get to work with all these great people, eat and live together, and run around and dig in the ground with a guy chasing after you with a microphone?”