With CGI animation dominating the current market, it’s always a pleasant sight to see something a tad different on the big screen. “Big Bad Fox” is another project of Benjamin Renner, who previously brought us the charming “Ernest & Celestine.” This newest film film is in fact an anthology with three stories. Each short (referenced as a “play”) is introduced by a fox, and are connected by beginning on the same farm near the woods.
The first story is about a no-nonsense Pig farmer who’s constantly bothered by his two idiot friends, a duck and a rabbit. Both are well meaning, but are prone to causing mayhem and always having an absurd plan up their sleeves. One day a stork lands on the farm clamming his wing is broken, which prevents him from deliver a baby girl named Pauline. The stork asks the pig to complete the task for him. The pig refuses, replying “he’s only a pig,” but quickly regrets it, as the next people the stork turns for help are the rabbit and the duck. Not wanting the baby to get hurt, the pig joins the duo on their quest, suffering one insane scenario to another.
The second story is about the titular Big Bad Fox, who’s actually a small nebbish fellow, having hard time hunting for hens. The fox gets advice from a sinister looking wolf, who tells him to simply steal some eggs and breed his own chickens that he can fatten-up and eat. The plan quickly backfires the moment the little chicks are hatched as they mistake the fox for their mother. Despite the Fox’s attempts to distance himself from his “adopted children,” a bond starts to grow between them with the chickens believing that they are foxes. Things get even more problematic as the wolf shows up demanding his share of the meal, while the local hens start an anti-Fox training program.
The final story is set during the winter and it’s once again starts the pig and his two zany pals. This time the rabbit and the duck accidentally think they killed Santa, and assume they have to save Christmas by delivering gifts to the children themselves, with pig once again having a hard time trying to talk some sense into his friends, resulting in more comedic abuse.
While “Big Bad Fox” may not look especially cinematic at first, comedy wise it’s one of funniest animated movies I’ve seen in a long time. From beginning to end, the movie takes you on fun ride, firing endless amounts of gags. The comedy timing is terrific and even if there is a joke you see coming a mile away, the movie offers you 20 more unexpected jokes the next second. What’s also refreshing is that the director didn’t feel the need to rely on usual gimmicks pop-culture references or toilet humor that we often get in most children’s films. It’s mostly clean humor, with the main source of comedy coming from the characters’ personalities.
The look of the film is also great, especially the watercolor backgrounds. It’s interesting when you compare it to the original comic, which not only has a very simplistic character design, but pages are mostly dominated by white with very symbolic backgrounds.
It’s here that the story is much more visually richer and detailed, and while I like the original books design, I don’t think it would work on the big screen without being too distracting.
As I said before, it’s just one big comedy ride that never feels like it has to take a break. While the fox storyline has it’s charming moments, the script never goes for pathos or tries to manipulate the viewer’s heart strings in any shape or form. Of all the three segments, my favorite was the first story. It had the most amount of zany energy, the grandest biggest adventurer, and location hopping. In all honesty, I wouldn’t have minded if it was much longer. In fact, I think the first two stories had potential to be made into feature films and stand on their own. Aside from the introductions, the stories never really connect in any way, which leads me to believe that this might been originally planned as three secrete specials.
If I have any complaints (as small as they may be), it’s that the third story is the weakest. Though certainly not bad, the story’s Christmas-setting felt like an excuse to get the characters involved in various winter-themed hijinks. It also doesn’t help that the story is also the only one that isn’t based on any of Benjamin Renner’s comic books, which might explain why it didn’t felt as developed as the first two.
All in all, It was a blast seeing this movie with a crowded audience that laughed the entire time. Attendees even remarked that they wouldn’t mind seeing an entire animated series centered on these characters, and I can’t help but agree with them. Luckily, the movie ends with the fox promising more “plays” in the future, and I’m hopeful that he’s true to his word.