The upcoming Isle Of Dogs looks wonderful, with a post-apocalyptic world full of garbage, dogs, and celebrated character actors offering wry asides over ’60s British Invasion B-sides, presumably. It’s also, for director Wes Anderson, a return to the stop-motion animation style of his 2009 sleeper classic Fantastic Mr. Fox, which has quietly gained a following among some of the director’s fans as the auteur’s low-key masterpiece.
One such fan is video essayist Karsten Runquist, who declares it his “favorite film” and explains why in a short video essay. He argues that there’s a lot more going on than was initially apparent in Anderson’s Roald Dahl adaptation—namely, a richer, seemingly “sad” ending that teaches children a more important lesson than most ostensible children’s films attempt. The key is the short, puzzling “Canis lupus” scene, in which the anthropomorphic stars of the film briefly interact with a wild wolf. It sets a hopeful context for the seemingly diminished ambitions of Mr. Fox at the film’s conclusion, in which he finds himself still living in a hole, but newly accepting of it.
Anderson’s one of those directors whose various films can all be argued as his indisputable best, and Runquist’s attachment to Mr. Fox seems based more than a little on personal connection. At the very least, it’s a compelling argument to internalize so you can more knowingly rebut it the next time you are forced to convince people that, no, actually Grand Budapest Hotel is his best movie.