The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales Review
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales - from Benjamin Renner (creator of the Oscar-nominated Ernest & Celestine) and animator Patrick Imbert - is a charming offering featuring whimsical animation and a hearty dose of well-delivered comedy, available on DVD with an excellent English-version cast that includes several well-known talents.
The films opens on a fox in a bowtie (Giles New) taking centre stage. He is here to present the evening’s entertainment, a series of plays performed by the local troupe of farmyard animals. The first is called Baby Delivery, the fox announces only to be interrupted by a duck (Bill Bailey) poking his head out from behind the red curtain. “Psst, we’re going to have to change the title,” the duck tells him—they’ve lost the baby. “You’re kidding. What should we call it then?” the fox asks and the duck produces the baby’s replacement: a watermelon. Turning back to the audience, the fox sheepishly announces the first play will be Watermelon Delivery, only to be interrupted yet again—“Psst, we found the baby”—and the show goes on.
The tone of this opening sequence is a good indication of things to come. The three tales, or ‘plays’, are a series of capers following the mishaps of a group of well-meaning but somewhat misguided farmyard animals. In the first, the duck, a pig and a rabbit take on the duty of delivering a baby when the stork is too lazy to get the job done.
The second and most pleasing of the tales, The Big Bad Fox, sees the fox (Giles New) accidentally adopting three baby chicks who become convinced that they, too, are foxes and set about trying to gobble up chickens. Meanwhile, the mother hen (Celia Imrie) is spearheading a chicken rebellion to defend against the fox.
The final tale, We Must Save Christmas, is an ill-advised attempt by the duck and the rabbit to save Christmas after accidentally knocking Father Christmas off a ledge, despite the pig persistently pointing out that the Father Christmas they ‘killed’ was merely a plastic decoration.
Quirky and funny, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales is the animated rendition of director Renner’s own books Le grand méchant renard and Un bébé à livrer. There is a certain small-town charm to the tales, enhanced by the quaint but lovely storybook feel of the animation, and plenty of comedy that will be a hit with both the little ones and adults. The English version stars several well-known names including Bill Bailey, Celia Imrie, Matthew Goode, and Adrian Edmondson, and the three-part structure makes the film an easily-digestible Christmas offering, perfect for cuddling up on the sofa after the madness of Christmas morning.
The DVD comes with the original French included, worth a watch for any aspiring Francophiles, and a short but sweet ‘making of’ featurette that keeps the focus on the target age group (10 and under) and will be entertaining for any little ones interested in drawing, animation or making movies. At 104 minutes, the film rings in a little long for young attention spans, but is easily split up into the three individual tales that work as well on their own as they do of the whole.
Full of charm, wit and good old-fashioned slapstick comedy, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales is sure to win with kids and parents alike.