The Big Bad Fox And Other Tales is a collection of three animated stories all featuring the same barnyard characters. These stories are connected via a fun framing device—the animals are all part of a theatre troupe known as the Honeysuckle Farm Theater Company, and the stories are acts of the play that they are performing. As the film opens, we get a behind-the-scenes glimpse as the animals prepare to take the stage to act out the three stories. In-between each act, we get to see more of this stage drama unfold. The play consists of three 20+ minute stories:
- Baby Delivery:
Stork is flying over the farm, on his way to deliver a baby, when he crashes into Pig’s apple tree. Stork claims his arm too injured to fly, and so he convinces Rabbit and Duck to do the delivery for him. However, Rabbit and Duck aren’t really the sharpest tools in the shed, and Pig fears for the safety of the child. So he reluctantly joins the two simple-minded animals on their adventure. Along the way the trio encounters many obstacles, including losing the baby, ending up on a butcher truck, crossing paths with hunters, a mix-up at the post office, a high-flying adventure, and meeting the Spanish-speaking Tarsier, who escaped from the zoo.
- The Big Bad Fox:
Fox wants to prove that he can be scary, but none of the other animals are frightened of him. In the forest, Wolf tries to teach Fox how to scare the chickens—and hopefully rustle up some food for the two of them. However, Fox only succeeds in annoying Hen instead of scaring her. So in order to avoid dealing with the larger chickens, Fox decides to steal Hen’s eggs and just wait for them to grow up. However, once the eggs hatch, the three baby chicks immediate bond to Fox, thinking he’s their mother. When he tries to explain that he is a Fox, the chicks start to believe they are foxes as well. Meanwhile, Hen nervously looks for her eggs, and recruits Dog to help her. Wolf is thrilled to see the chicks, but now that he has bonded with them, Fox must figure out a way to protect the chicks from Wolf, and ultimately get them safely back to their real mother.
- Saving Christmas:
It’s the day before Christmas and the animals are decorating the farm for the holiday. Duck and Rabbit are excited for Santa’s arrival, while Pig is shocked that they still believe in Saint Nick. The two simpletons accidentally knock down a Santa decoration, and think they’ve killed the real Santa. So they decide it’s up to them to take his place and save Christmas. Once again, Pig is afraid that these two idiots will kill themselves in the process, so he decides to tag along and gets roped into another wild adventure.
The filmmakers have done such a wonderful job with these stories and with fleshing out the characters. Each of the animals has his or her own personality and the way they interact with one another is a lot of fun. There is so much wit and humor in the writing and vocal performances, as well as a lot of physical humor baked into the animation. I think my favorite interactions are between the exasperated Pig and the dimwitted Duck and Rabbit, as Pig tries to prevent the other two from killing themselves. In the Saving Christmas act, there is a hilarious scene where Duck and Rabbit are trying to fix a lawnmower, first by fiddling with the blades underneath and later on checking the gas level by illuminating the area with a match, and the look of terror in Pig’s eyes is wonderful.
After I finished watching this film, I found myself wishing that it had been a TV series instead of a movie, so that I had more episodes to binge. I could have easily watched hours of either the barnyard stories or the animal’s theater antics.
Shout Factory’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds excellent. The picture flawlessly captures the color and detail of the beautiful water-colored animation, while the audio track brings the animal’s adventures on the farm to life, providing clear dialogue and an immersive soundtrack. The release offers both the original French language track as well as a wonderful English dub featuring some well-known and talented British actors. Sometimes Dubs can be lacking, but in this case I felt no need to watch it in French as the English performance was extremely fun and captivating. The disc also contains a nice assortment of bonus material, including nearly 35 minutes of interviews and behind-the-scenes featurettes (some in English and some in French with subtitles) as well as four trailers for the film. The Blu-ray and DVD discs come packed in a standard HD keepcase, along with a full color cardboard slipcover.
- 1080p / Widescreen 1.77:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
- Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
- 480i / Anamorphic Widescreen 1.77:1
- Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital
- Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
- Interview With The Directors (9:30)
The filmmakers talk about the origins of the characters and the stories, adapting the graphic novel into an animated tv special, expanding the the special into three stories for a feature film, the personal nature of the characters, the role of the director, and the teamwork involved in the animation process. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, some rough early animation, and interviews with writer/director Benjamin Renner and co-Director Patrick Imbert.
- The Making Of The Big Bad Fox And Other Tales (15:22)
Four young children make their way through the production studio, interviewing the filmmakers about the process of making the movie. The artists and animators demonstrate their techniques, while the kids ask some fun and sometimes awkward questions regarding the characters and their on-screen antics. We also get a glimpse of the original voice actors recording their lines in the studio. The kids sometimes seem tired, bored or distracted, but that adds to the charm of the featurette. Those interviewed include producers Didier & Damien Brunner, co-Director Patrick Imbert, author/co-director Benjamin Renner, animator Gaëlle Thierry, color illustrator Valérie Schaefer, background leads Zyk and Zaza, and casting director Céline Ronté. Presented in French with English subtitles.
- Q&A At New York International Children’s Film Festival (4:35)
NYICFF programmer Maria-Christina Villaseñor welcomes writer/director Benjamin Renner to the stage to answer questions in front of an audience. He talks about how he wrote the story, adding slapstick humor and fantasy via the animation, using watercolor for the animation, and the crepe recipe in the end credits.
- English Dub Featurette (4:26)
The English-language cast talk about the story and their characters. Includes glimpses of the actors recording their performances in the studio, and interviews with adaptation & voice director David Freedman, and actors Giles New (“Fox”), Rose Robinson, Beth Chalmers, Adrian Edmondson (“Rabbit” & “Bulldog”), Celia Imrie (“Chicken”), Bill Bailey (“Duck”), Matthew Goode (“Wolf”), Phill Jupitus (“Dog”), Justin Edwards (“Pig”) & Phil Whelans (“Stork”).
- Trailers (5:15)
Four trailers play back-to-back—Official English Trailer”, “Original French Trailer”, “English Cast Spot”, and “English Home Video Teaser”.
The Big Bad Fox And Other Tales is a delightful collection of three animated stories all featuring the same barnyard characters. The animation style, with its rough lines and watercolor palette, is a feast for the eyes. I could easily watch an entire series based on these characters, and these three stories are a wonderful start. Shout! Factory has put together a solid Blu-ray release, with excellent picture and sound as well as a solid selection of bonus material. This release comes highly recommended for viewers of all ages, especially those who are fans of quality animation.