After delighting audiences and critics alike at the 2017 London Film Festival, Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert’s brilliantly observed French animation The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales (Le grand mechant renard et autres contes) finally gets a nationwide UK release, but not before undergoing a commendably accurate dubbing in English in a version which sees Matthew Goode, Celia Imrie and Bill Bailey lend their voices to this delightfully comedic anthology.
Adapted from Renner’s graphic novel of the same, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales was originally conceived as 3 half-hour TV specials, but was later turned into a film in which the three different stories are linked together by a fourth wall-breaking interval in which assorted characters take turns in introducing each new section.
In A Baby to Deliver, a lazy stork claiming to have broken its wing entrusts Pig (voiced by Justin Edwards), Duck (Bill Bailey) and Rabbit (Adrian Edmondson) with the delivery of baby Pauline to her expecting parents. Things take a turn for the ridiculous when the three hapless heroes find themselves fending off danger from traditional enemies on the way to Pauline’s home.
In The Big Bad Fox, perhaps the funniest of the three stories, the cowardly Fox (Giles New) steals 3 eggs from a proud chicken (Celia Imrie ) in the hope of ingratiating himself with the terrifying Mr Wolf (Matthew Goode) whom he hopes to share the loot with. Things don’t quite go to plan when the eggs finally hatch, giving birth to three perfect little chicks who instantly believe Fox to be their mother. This soon presents Fox with a dilemma, does he play along with his new charges, or surrender them to Mr Wolf in order to prove his loyalty.
The final instalment is a clear indication that the film would have perhaps benefited from an end of the year release as it features our three friends from the first story as they go on a quest to save Christmas after falsely believing that Santa is dead. Hilarity ensues when they find themselves imprisoned alongside some of the most fearsome street dogs in town when they are accidentally picked up and locked in the Dog Pound.
Borrowing ideas from La Fontaine fables and then subverting them in order to fit into a more modern set up, Renner and Imbert succeed in creating a world full of laugh-out-loud situations and physical comedy which are likely to delight audiences, young and old. And while a couple of gags are sadly lost in translation for anyone fluent in both languages, the dubbing team and the film’s UK voice cast should be commended for doing their best to bring this fantastic production to a wider audience, all the while retaining the essence of the original stories.
The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales Is in cinemas from Friday 3rd of August.