In The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson excelled at telling adult stories with childlike whimsy. Telling children’s stories with adult whimsy is another matter.
Count me among the few not captivated by Anderson’s animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book; I found it as stilted and twee as the title canid’s tippy-toe gait. Despite Fox’s insouciance, which is enhanced by George Clooney’s suave goofiness and Anderson’s doodling details, his story is a familiar one: former chicken hunter subdued by marriage (the wife voiced by Meryl Streep) and a runty son (who is “different,” another clichéd trope) into a suffocating career as a journalist.
And so, one last big heist, which entangles the whole weird Wind in the Willows community. From the Davy Crockett theme song at the start to a kid named Kristofferson, Anderson’s cuteness often cloys. “I’m a wild animal,” Mr. Fox observes. If only that were so.