Wes Anderson, like precocious contemporary Spike Jonze, has never equalled his delightfully droll early work.
For Anderson it was Rushmore, for Jonze Being John Malkovich and for both directors every movie since – The Royal Tenenbaums, Adaptation, The Darjeeling Limited – has been a case of steadily diminishing returns. Coincidentally, both film-makers have turned to adapting a famous children's story to revive their chutzpah. In Jonze's case it's the weak Where the Wild Things Are. However, for Anderson Fantastic Mr Fox is a slight return to form. All of his fixations are present and correct – his obsession with low-level family dysfunction, the bone-dry dialogue, the tasteful soundtrack, littered with Sixties gems (The Beach Boys' "Heroes and Villains") and, of course, Bill Murray – for this painstakingly crafted animation, based on Roald Dahl's novel. Mr Fox (voiced by George Clooney) can no longer resist the thrill of stealing livestock – "How can a fox ever be happy without a chicken in his teeth?" – but by doing so he places his family – including Meryl Streep's straight-talking Mrs Fox and Jason Schwartzman's needy son – in huge peril, with three farmers pursuing his shortened tail. To escape their attentions the family Fox dig deep underground, but if they don't come up with a cunning plan sharpish they'll starve to death. An exquisitely paced, melancholic and witty [dysfunctional] family film.