Australian Council on Children and the Media

Fantastic Mr Fox

movie image

Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 12 (Violence, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Fantastic Mr Fox
  • a review of Fantastic Mr Fox completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 1 January 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 8 - 12 Parental guidance recommended due to violence
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Fantastic Mr Fox
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild crude language and animated violence.
Length 87 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

?Mr. Fox (voice of George Clooney) was once a highly successful professional thief who loved stealing chickens from unsuspecting farmers. While trapped with his wife and facing certain death Mr. Fox learns that he is going to be a father and promises Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) that if they survive he will find another line of work. Twelve fox years later he is working as a newspaper columnist, living in an underground cave with his wife and son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and dreaming of bigger and better things.

Deciding to take a risk he purchases a tree house and moves his family to one of the more dangerous suburbs for foxes, located directly opposite property owned by three of the most violent men in the country: Boggis (Robin Hurlstone) a chicken farmer, Bunce (Hugo Guinness) who has a goose and duck smokehouse and Bean (Michael Gambon) who has a cider factory. Mr. Fox cannot help himself and, with the assistance of a trusty accomplice, sets out to do one final job stealing chickens from Boggis’ farm. The success of that mission entices him to try Bunce’s smokehouse and finally Bean’s storage cellar. When the farmers unite to kill Mr. Fox and his family the entire animal population is driven underground in an effort to stay alive.

After days without food or water Mr. Fox hatches a plan which he hopes will save them all. He does not count on the cunning of the humans or on Ash’s attempt to prove himself which ends with his cousin Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson) being taken hostage. He is about to hand himself over when his family is threatened by a rat working for the humans. Following a violent struggle and the rat’s death Mr. Fox realizes the value of all life, including his own, and unites all the animals in a last ditch effort to save themselves, rescue Kristofferson and outwit the farmers.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Crime, jealousy, animals versus people

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Fox kill some chickens on a farm.
  • A beaver purposely explodes some magnesium in science class.
  • Mr. Fox and an accomplice kill chickens by biting and breaking their necks. The accomplice has trouble so Mr. Fox must do it for him.
  • Mr. Fox must escape over an electric fence and he and his accomplice are repeatedly electrocuted.
  • A security rat tries to karate chop Mr. Fox. He pulls a knife on him and there is a scuffle.
  • The farmers plot to kill Mr. Fox. They stake out his home and then shoot at him. They shoot off his tail.
  • Mrs. Fox slaps Mr. Fox across the face for lying to her. He is left with a permanent scratch.
  • The farmers destroy the Fox home and send the family digging under the ground.
  • Kristofferson karate chops a bully.
  • In a rage one of the farmers smashes everything in a trailer.
  • Ash and Kristofferson are nearly killed by Mr. Bean’s wife. Kristofferson is taken hostage.
  • A rat pushes Ash against a wall, stuffs him in a bag and then must fight both Mr. and Mrs. Fox. The rat is killed.
  • Snipers with automatic weapons are placed all over the town and wait for Mr. Fox to show himself.
  • Mr. Fox throws flaming pine cones into the air; they set people and places on fire.
  • Mr. Fox must escape from a violent, rabid, dog.
  • The farmers open fire on Mr. Fox and the fox cubs as they are trying to escape from the factory.
  • Ash releases the rabid dog who tries to attack the farmers.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • The farmers are waiting for Mr. Fox to come out of his house. We know they plan to kill him, but he is unaware. There is a bit of suspense and then the shooting begins. Mr. Fox escapes back inside but he loses his tail as one of the farmers shoots it off and then wears it as a neck tie.
  • Kristofferson and Ash plan a mission to get Mr. Fox’s tail back. They go into the Bean kitchen and are still there when Mrs. Bean comes back. They think that she can’t see them, but are surprised when she comes at them with a large knife. There is a mad dash to try to get back to safety but only Ash manages to escape. Kristofferson is later shown being held upside down by one of the farmers. He looks tiny and terrified.
  • While the animals are about to sit down to a meal the farmers flush them out of their hiding spot with alcoholic apple cider. They are tumbled and turned and carried out of their burrows and into an underground sewer system. Families are separated and it is at this time that Mr. and Mrs. Fox discover that Kristofferson is missing. There are an intense few minutes before Ash explains what has happened.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

?Most children in this age group are unlikely to be frightened by anything in this film.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Kristofferson and a girl that Ash likes indicate that they are going steady.
  • The rat refers to Mrs. Fox as a “town tart” and implies that she was ‘easy’ and ‘wild’.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • One of the farmers is always smoking a cigarette.
  • There is much drinking of Bean’s alcoholic cider throughout the film.
  • Mr. Fox puts drugs into blueberries to knock out the dogs at one of the farms. After one bite the dogs’ eyes glaze over and they are unconscious. Mr. Boggis eats one as well and suffers the same fate.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Frequent use of the word “cuss” throughout the film. “What the cuss…?” “The cuss you are!” etc. and also occasional name calling eg. “stupid”.

In a nutshell

Fantastic Mr Fox is a stop motion animation based on the book by Roald Dahl. It offers a slightly different experience when compared to other contemporary films, its colours are less vivid and striking but this gives it a more authentic feel. It is not film for younger children but older ones may enjoy it, especially fans of the book or author.
The main messages from this movie are that it is OK to be different and that everyone has different talents and abilities. The trick is to find them, to believe in yourself and to use them to your best advantage.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Perseverance
  • Ingenuity and problem solving skills
  • Trying to see the bright side of things even when all hope seems lost
  • Cooperation


This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • lying to the people that you love
  • taking things that don’t belong to you
  • comparing one child with another
  • using violence as a way to solve conflict

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