Here’s the rest of the proof that only Meryl Streep and George Clooney are working. Everyone else in Hollywood is just hoping to get a part in their movies.
To wit: Wes Anderson’s fabulous “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” a wonderful, charming, stop-action animated film in which Streep and Clooney play Mr. and Mrs. Fox. (Her name is Felicia) It’s the third film this season for Clooney, who also has “Up in the Air” and “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” It’s also the third for Streep, who already turned in “Julie and Julia” and has “It’s Complicated” coming up in December.
Streep is so confused at this point that she went on and on about working with Stanley Tucci, from “Julie and Julia” when someone asked her a question at the party at Rouge Tomate on East 60th St. “What about Alec Baldwin?” I asked. Her eyes narrowed for a minute. “Oh yes, of course, Alec!” Who can keep all these films straight?
Meryl, by the way, said she wanted one thing at the party: a Tanqueray gin martini, dry. It was produced for her by yours truly. She really took two sips because she was so busy listening to everyone tell her how wonderful she is. At the actual screening, earlier, Wes Anderson announced, “The No. 1 ranked actress,” as if she were Martina Navratilova.
“Did you know you were ranked No. 1?” I asked her. “Oh, that’s just Wes,” she said. But come on, we all know better. A total stranger came up to her and started chewing Streep’s ear off about a play her daughter was doing that Meryl once did, yada yada yada. “I know that play,” Streep said. She listens patiently to each new’ person’s saga. “It was ‘The Idiots Karamazov.’ ”
“That’s right!” said the woman, who then extended her hand in friendship and said, “I’m Linda.”
“I’m Meryl,” replied Streep.
Elsewhere at the party, Bill Murray ‘ who plays a badger ‘ looked perturbed as he approached Anderson, co-writer Noah Baumbach, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. What was wrong? “Someone is bothering me,” he said mysteriously, then lightened up. Chef Mario Batali, Willem Dafoe and Jason Schwarzman, also voices in the film, were there, as was Rosie Perez, and a lot of nervous looking people associated with it.
Patricia Neal, the great actress and widow of Roald Dahl, who wrote the original book, told me she loved the movie, “Loved it,” she said. She’s 83 and a movie and theatre grande dame.
And she’s right. Somehow Wes Anderson’s knack for quirky characters just mixed perfectly with Dahl’s magical foxes. The whimsy of Anderson’s usual gang just meshes with Dahl’s creatures and tone. There is a plot ‘ and a villian (voiced by Michael Gambon, and the character of Mr. Bean seems a lot like Rupert Murdoch). But mostly it’s a story about family with a lot of zany characters. Of course Mr. Fox runs what is really a crime family, foxes on the run who occasionally knock over supermarkets. In between they have the same problems as humans ‘ in fact, they don’t seem to realize they aren’t humans.
Streep gets one of the best lines in the movie as she fends off a rat. Clooney is almost doing a parody of himself from an “Oceans” movie. Keep a close ear for Wally Wolodarsky, as Kylie, and Eric Anderson (Wes’s real life brother) as Kristofferson, Mr. Fox’s nephew.
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is one of those kids’ movies that’s really for adults on many levels. Anderson has made sort of his “Wallace and Gromit,” a film that will really lift your spirits and engage you. It’s a shoo in for a nomination in Best Animated Feature, and may wind up besting Disney’s “Up.” I can’t wait to see it again.
P.S. Great soundtrack, usual, put together by Randall Poster. Lots of Beach Boys songs, and the usual rare gem ‘ this time, “Let Her Dance” by the Bobby Fuller Four.