Genre: Adventure/ Animation/ Comedy
Director: Benjamin Renner, Patrick Imbert
Cast: Bill Bailey, Adrian Edmondson, Matthew Goode, Celia Imrie, Giles New
RunTime: 1 hr 23 mins
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 6 December 2018
Synopsis: The countryside isn’t always as calm and peaceful as it’s made out to be, and the animals on this farm are particularly agitated: a fox who mothers a family of chicks, a rabbit who plays the stork, and a duck who wants to be Santa Claus. If you think life in the country is a walk in the park, think again!
Three lively stories involving a bunch of farmyard animals make up this French-Belgian co-production adapted by director Benjamin Renner from his bestselling comic book, which a fine ensemble of British actors has dubbed into English from the original French language. Like Renner’s Oscar-nominated debut ‘Ernest and Celestine’ a few years back, his sophomore film that sees him working with animator Patrick Imbert is hand-drawn, and the old-school technique proves a good fit for the loose and playful tone of the narrative.
The titular story sees a bungling fox (Giles New) being instigated by a wily wolf (Matthew Goode) into stealing one of the farm hen’s eggs, which then hatch into a brood of chicks who mistake the fox for their mother. Though at first alarmed by his unexpected parental responsibilities, the fox comes to develop affections for the chicks, which complicate his dynamic with the wolf that only wishes for them to grow up faster to be fit for consumption. Meanwhile, back on the farm, their angry mother is frustrated by the farm dog’s inaction, deciding to take matters into their own hands by teaching the rest of the hens and chicks self-defence.
There are plenty of chuckles to be had with the fox’s bewilderment, the chicks’ confusion that they were born to eat other chicks, and the wolf’s eventual denouement in the hands of the farm hens. But as the film’s centrepiece, you’ll probably find it just a little underwhelming. Yet that is less because Renner’s segment needs more oomph than because the first and last story are put together with equal aplomb by Imbert; oh yes, there is also much delight to be found in the other two stories, both of which feature a meddlesome duck (Bill Bailey), a controlling pig (Justin Edwards) and a dozy rabbit (Adrian Edmondson).
The first entitled ‘A Baby to Deliver’ sees a feckless stork sweet-talking the trio into delivering a human baby to its expectant parents in Avignon. Their road trip consists of many amusing misadventures, no thanks to the clumsiness and immaturity of the duck and rabbit, and recalls the best of the Looney Tunes cartoons. Ditto the last story ‘The Perfect Christmas’, which has the same trio teaming up yet again to try to replace Santa Claus, after the duck and rabbit mistakenly think that they have killed him and therefore ruined Christmas for the rest of the world. While the big slapstick gags are often hilarious, there are also lots of sweet moments in between, which make for a fun and heartwarming time.
Compared to the computer-generated 3D animations from Hollywood, ‘The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales’ exudes a deceptively simple and minimalist feel that may take a little getting used to at the start. Nonetheless, these drawings are not without their own ingenuous charm, and are perfectly suited to the film’s loose yet dynamic escapades. Besides providing big laughs, the fables are also both warm and witty, with due credit to the British voice cast that do a fantastic job keeping to the tone of the French original. If you’re looking for something both quaint and entertaining for the whole family, then we urge you to give this hand-drawn animated film a go.
(Warm, witty and with its own quaint charms, this hand-drawn French-Belgian animated tale finds big laughs in its wacky farmyard fables)
Review by Gabriel Chong