Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 12/1/09.
The soundtrack to Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox is a compilation of material featuring score music by Alexandre Desplat. Desplat's score is a mixture of orchestral music that ranges from various styles of composers such as Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone. Even as the music dwells into elements of folk and twangy music with help from Jarvis Cocker of Pulp who contributes an original song to the film. Along with tracks from Burl Ives, the Wellingtons, Georges Delerue, Nancy Adams, the Bobby Fuller Four, the Beach Boys, and regular Anderson musical trademark in the Rolling Stones. It's a fun, exhilarating soundtrack from Wes Anderson and company.
The album opens with a 15-second track called American Empirical Pictures after Wes Anderson's production company. A simple banjo track with chimes all by Alexandre Desplat as it serves as an intro for the next track. The Wellingtons' The Ballad Of Davy Crockett which is a simple, bouncy folk song led by a banjo and great harmony vocals about Davy Crockett as it serves as a backing track for Mr. Fox's exercise to steal food. Mr. Fox In The Fields is an instrumental piece from Desplat that serves as theme music for Mr. Fox with a flourish of banjos and chimes with a smooth orchestral arrangement. The Beach Boys' Heroes & Villains from Smiley Smile, is an amazing track with bouncy rhythms, Mike Love's wailing vocals, and cosmic lyrics from Van Dyke Parks. Featuring strange arrangements of sounds and a harpsichord solo bridge from Brian Wilson, the song plays as a backing track for Mr. & Mrs. Fox stealing food.
Fooba Wooba John by Burl Ives is a playful, one-minute-and-seven-second song that has Ives singing to bouncy melody with old-sound ragtime jazz as it serves as track that reflects the lives of the Fox family. Boggis, Bunce, and Bean is a score piece by Desplat that features bouncy chimes and smooth-stomping beats as it reveals the personalities of the three villains in the story. Jimmy Squirrel And Co. is a banjo-led instrumental with swooning flutes and chimes as it is a score piece with violin plucks as a contractor reveals to Mr. Fox a brand new home. Love by Nancy Adams is a swooning ballad with melodic guitar chimes as Adams sings the serene song with her angelic vocals. The song is a perfect backing track to the relationship between Mr. & Mrs. Fox. Burl Ives' Buckeye Jim is a mid-tempo folk track led by Ives' baritone vocals as it is simple song that recalls the new home life of the Foxes.
High-Speed French Train is a score piece with bouncy orchestral melodies and woodwinds as it's accompanied by tingling chimes as it serves as a musical cue for Ash's train set that his cousin Kristofferson is amazed by. Whack-Bat Majorette is an upbeat instrumental where Desplat goes into the circus-like world of Nino Rota ala the films of Federico Fellini. Led by a pounding rhythm and a broad brass sound with wailing flutes, it's a killer instrumental that serves as a backing track for the unique sport that is whack-bat. The Grey Goose by Burl Ives is a playful folk track led by Ives' vocals as it has a holiday-like feel as it plays to friendship of Mr. Fox and Kylie. Bean's Secret Cider Cellar is an Ennio Morricone-inspired track with washy acoustic guitars, pounding rhythms, whistles, and Jew-harp twangs. The track serves as a great piece where Mr. Fox and the Rat duel it out for cider. Un Petite Ile by Georges Delerue from Francois Truffaut's Two English Girls, is a serene, chime-like track led by a harpsichord and soothing string arrangements as it reflects on Mrs. Fox's heartbreak that her husband is stealing again.
The Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man is a rocking track with pounding drum fills, driving guitars, and Mick Jagger's lyrics about revolution. Featuring swirls of sitars, it's a song that serves as great piece where the Fox family and Kylie dig their way underground away from the tractors. Fantastic Mr. Fox aka Petey's Song by Jarvis Cocker that he co-wrote with Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach is a playful folk track led by a banjo, twanging Jew-harp, foot-stomping rhythms, and Cocker's cool vocals about Mr. Fox and his fantastic thefts as it is great, playful song. Art Tatum's jazzy-piano cover of Cole Porter's Night & Day is a great piece that plays to the feast as Mr. Fox and his friends are celebrating the big theft he and his friends have done. Kristofferson's Theme is a score piece by Desplat that is led by brimming chimes and playful melodies as it marks the arrival of Kristofferson as well as his attempt for he and Ash to steal back Mr. Fox's tail.
Just Another Dead Rat in a Garbage Pail (Behind a Chinese Restaurant) is a continuation of sorts of Bean Secret Cider Cellar with the character of the Rat returning. Led by its Spanish guitar, twanging Jew-harp, and whistle along with a wailing flute, it marks the Rat's attempt to take a ransom until he's confronted by Mrs. Fox and later, Mr. Fox as it's later accompanied by soothing, melodic-laden track with chimes and soothing string arrangements. Le Grand Choral by Georges Delerue from Francois Truffaut's Day for Night, is an orchestral piece with wailing trumpets and sumptuous string arrangements where Mr. Fox and company go on a rescue mission. Great Harrowsford Square is a score piece, with credit to the late Roald Dahl, is a track where Mr. Fox and his team face an unexpected enemy. Led by a slow banjo and pounding timpani fills, it's a haunting track that features a whistle reminiscent of Morricone's film scores. It is then followed by boys singing Dahl's lyrics about the villains of the film with a banjo accompaniment.
Stunt Expo 2004, another score piece with Dahl taking credit, is a continuation of the previous track with slow snare fills and pounding timpani tracks. Featuring a melody of the song about the villains, it's a playful track that mixes Morricone's spaghetti western pieces and sumptuous melodies as the vocals of the boys appear for an adventurous track where Mr. Fox and company escape. Canis Lupus is a short score piece where Mr. Fox meets a wolf in a serene background of wailing, operatic vocals with soothing string arrangements. Ol' Man River by the Beach Boys is a somber piece where the band sing Rodgers/Hammerstein song with just their serene vocals as Mr. Fox and family deal with the aftermath. The closing track is The Bobby Fuller Four's Let Her Dance which is a playful song led by melodic guitar tracks, bouncy rhythms, and fun lyrics about dancing as it serves as a great closing piece for Mr. Fox and friends to dance to.
The soundtrack to Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox is a superb and enjoyable album that features a lot of great score pieces and tracks for people of all ages to dance around to. While the only track excluded from the soundtrack is the Beach Boys' I Get Around, its exclusion doesn't affect the flow of the album nor its replay value. While it may not top such other classic Anderson soundtracks for Rushmore or Seu Jorge's The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions. It is certainly up there with those two while being one of the best film soundtracks of the year. For anyone who enjoys the film, the soundtrack to Fantastic Mr. Fox is a must have for anyone that loves great score pieces, nice folk ditties, and killer rock tracks.
Wes Anderson Soundtracks: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Seu Jorge-The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions - The Darjeeling Limited - (Moonrise Kingdom)
Wes Anderson Films: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Hotel Chevalier - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - Moonrise Kingdom - The Auteurs #8: Wes Anderson
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