Exploring Soundtracks: Fantastic Mr. Fox

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It’s been awhile since our last one, but we’re back with another article of Exploring Soundtracks. This time, we’ll be covering Wes Anderson’s sixth film, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. This stop-motion animated comedy came out in 2009, and is based on the children’s book by the same name by Roald Dahl.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” was Wed Anderson’s first animated film, as well as his first adapted film. After its release, it was met with a high approval rating and positive critical reception. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 93%, and it was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

The score for “Fantastic Mr. Fox” was composed by Alexandre Desplat, and the soundtrack features a list of various artists, including The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Burl Ives, and Jarvis Cocker. The Kinks didn’t make the cut though, which is a first for a Wes Anderson soundtrack.

Synopsis

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” follows the story of a fox who continues to steal food from three mean and wealthy farmers. After twelve years of raising a family, Mr. Fox (George Clooney)breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and starts raiding the farm of their human neighbors. But doing so endangers the lives of not only his family, but his animal neighbors and friends. When the farmers force Mr. Fox and his family underground, he has to resort to his foxy cleverness to keep him and his team of animal pals on top.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

We know by now that Wes Anderson is a fan of using montages, and he wastes little time getting to one in “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. After a short opening scene, we get a glimpse of a young Mr. Fox and his wife raiding a nearby farm. As they sneak in, The Beach Boys’ “Heroes and Villains” plays, setting a nice, playful tone while the two foxes scramble acrobatically over rooftops, and sneak past barrels and buildings. It’s a pretty cute scene, to be honest.

Another great montage in the film comes after the Fox family is discovered by the three humans, who proceed to dig them out of tree and home. The montage shows the farmers bringing in increasingly heavy digging equipment as the foxes simultaneously dig further under the ground. This time, The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” sets the tone for the montage. It’s just a little dose of 1960s classic rock to keep the Anderson tone consistent, but I’m a fan.

I wouldn’t be doing justice to the film if I didn’t mention Burl Ives’ contributions to the soundtrack. Burl Ives was a country and folk singer, and contributed more songs than any other artist on the soundtrack. These are all traditional songs, sprinkled in throughout the movie, and do a good job of keeping the lighthearted tone consistent in this children’s movie.

One of my favorite musical moments in the film comes at, yes, another montage. This last one is sung by a group of camp side musicians who sing the tale of the foxes stealing everything from the farmers. The song, “Mr. Fantastic Fox AKA Petey’s Song” is an original that Jarvis Cocker wrote for the film. The best part of the song is how it ends. One of the farmers cuts in to tell the singer (Petey) that his song is terrible, and that making it up as he goes is just bad songwriting.

Final Thoughts

This was a fun soundtrack to listen to, even if it had more country songs than I would have preferred, and fewer classic rock tunes that I usually enjoy in Wes Anderson’s films. But the choices for the “Fantastic Mr. Fox” soundtrack fit perfectly with the whimsical nature of this film. It’s a children’s story, after all.

That about does it for our look into the soundtrack of “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. Next time, we’ll look at the soundtrack for “Moonrise Kingdom”.

Track Listing

1. “American Empirical Pictures”*
2. “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” – The Wellingtons
3. “Mr. Fox in the Fields”*
4. “Heroes and Villains” – The Beach Boys
5. “Fooba Wooba John” – Burl Ives
6. “Boggis, Bunce, and Bean”*
7. “Jimmy Squirrel and Co.”*
8. “Love” – Nancy Adams
9. “Buckeye Jim” – Burl Ives
10. “High-Speed French Train”*
11. “Whack-Bat Majorette”*
12. “The Grey Goose” – Burl Ives
13. “Bean’s Secret Cider Cellar”*
14. “Une Petite Île” – Georges Delerue
15. “Street Fighting Man” – The Rolling Stones
16. “Fantastic Mr. Fox AKA Petey’s Song” – Jarvis Cocker
17. “Night and Day” – Art Tatum
18. “Kristofferson’s Theme”*
19. “Just Another Dead Rat in a Garbage Pail (behind a Chinese Restaurant)”*
20. “Le Grand Choral” – Georges Delerue
21. “Great Harrowsford Square”*
22. “Stunt Expo 2004″*
23. “Canis Lupus”*
24. “Ol’ Man River” – The Beach Boys
25. “Let Her Dance” – Bobby Fuller Four

 

 

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