View from the Couch: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

August 9, 2011 4 Comments

 by Dr. Marc Rosen

 

Dr. Rosen is a lecturer at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and is in private practice in Franklin.  He is an avid cinephile and has taught several film courses at the MPI.  He has selected Mr. Fox from Wes Anderson’s 2008 film “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.”   Placing this wiley character on the couch is the first documented case study of  claymation psychoanalysis.  Thank you Dr. Rosen!

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Waiting room, two seats, table with magazines, light of one table lamp, classical music playing softly overhead.  MR FOX is seated, fidgeting, picking up one magazine, then another, thumbing through them and looking at pictures.

 

The door opens and we see DR QUAKENBUSH, dressed in tweed jacket, gray slacks, white shirt, no tie, freshly shined oxfords.

 

DR QUAKENBUSH

 

Mr. Fox?

 

MR FOX

 

What was your first clue? Whistle click click.

 

DR QUAKENBUSH

 

(smiles) Won’t you come in and have a seat?

 

FOX

 

Thanks Doc. (takes seat that QUAKENBUSH motions to.  Stares at QUAKENBUSH, QUAKENBUSH stares back.)  Can’t say I’ve ever done this sort of thing before….

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

Well, why not tell me what brings you here today?

 

FOX

 

Good question Doc, good question.  Actually, it was my friend Badger that sent me here.   Was a bit worried I’d had a screw loose.  He isn’t the only on thinking that.  Mrs. Fox hasn’t been too happy with my conduct of late either….. Now Badger, he’s quite a good old cuss, been friends for years, he’s my lawyer too.  Needed a good one over the years – got in quite a few scrapes, ran afoul from the law…

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

Oh?

 

FOX

 

Oh yeah, I’d say Doc.  Spent my early years, well, as a Robin Hood of sorts.  Liberating chickens from their captors then freeing their souls (click click whistle).   By the way, what we talk about….. just between you and me, right?

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

That’s right…

 

FOX

 

Anyhow…that was an exciting time in my life – felt the freest I ever felt, seemed nothing, nobody could ever stop me, I felt powerful, could accomplish anything I really put my mind to.  Schemes, elaborate plans… I knew all the traps and places to avoid, where the dogs slept, which ones I could charm with a treat and which ones to slink around.  I was invincible Doc, cussin’ invincible (click click whistle).  You may have read about me in the papers, not by name of course, but in the police blotter…. “a prowler entered Farmer Randall’s coop and made off with five of his best layers last night”… or “ Farmer Anderson reported eight hens and his best rooster missing.  No one in the family heard a sound”.   Never told anyone this, not even Mrs. Fox, but I’ve kept a scrapbook of these reports… must be thirty or forty of ‘em….. (looks off)… sometimes I make an excuse to go up in the attic just to look at them….. you see, I worry that my son might see them.

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

Oh?

 

FOX

 

Yeah…. Good kid, crazy about him, love him to death but….,well, he’s hasn’t the starch I did when I was a kid….just not as… not the go-getter I was.   I mean, I was one hell of an athlete – I still hold some records at the high school.  Ash, my boy, he means well and he tries hard but he just never… I know I’m hard on him sometimes but…. He’s always trying to impress, running around in capes, jumping out of corners, reading comics, playing make believe.  Just don’t understand the boy….. Don’t get… well jeez, my pop, he was tough as nails.  Never laid a hand on me; all he needed was to look at me really.  Scared the cuss outta me…. I mean my wife says Ash just wants me to notice him but… I do but I never know what to notice, what to say, how to really talk to him in a way he knows…..(extended pause)

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

Knows what?

 

FOX

 

That…. That he doesn’t have to work so hard for me to notice him.  I mean, it’s almost embarrassing to me at times, he seems so desparate…..so cussin’ needy… and cussin’ clumsy, that boy is too, clumsy as a … well, clumsy as drunken three-legged dog!

Never imagined I’d ever have a litter, really.  Never imagined myself being a decent father.  My dad, a good man by most accounts, well, when he was around, seemed like I was invisible.  Not that I really cared much but would’ve been nice if he took some notice.  All he did was sit and read the paper, picking his teeth with a chicken feather and keep to himself.  The whole litter kept clear of him but really, I couldn’t tell you why.  He was like a Sphinx, just staring out into space, kind of a low growl always in his throat and…. If something interested him, he’d give this low whistling sound.  Barely spoke….just stared………………..

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

You fell silent there.  What were you thinking?

 

FOX

 

……just remembering this one time, I came home from a game.  I basically won it for the team…so excited, happy and proud.  I remember trying to get my dad’s notice, just to have him break that stare of his so he’d … just know I guess.  Felt like a fool standing there, star of the game but a fool at home.  Felt like I could never really impress him.

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

You said something similar about Ash, that he’s always trying to impress.

 

FOX

 

Yeah, and it always makes me feel so cussin’ bad for the boy.. but I just can’t look at him when he does that.  Seems humiliating.

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

Like you felt trying to get your dad to notice you?

 

FOX

 

…..Cuss Doc!  I never really thought about that before.  That cussin’ kid is like I was, trying to get that mothercusser to just look, get a reaction, show some pride.  It was so cussin’ humiliating to just stand there….. You know, that’s why the wife wanted me to talk to somebody, she thought I was always so cussed stiff around the boy.  He’s a good kid but….

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

But?

 

FOX

 

He just reminds me of a beggar, standing there with his hand out and just doing anything for a cussin’ nickel…. Reminds me of me, I guess… (looks off, sad)………..just thinking about how I’ve just boxed us into this little hole of a house, no windows, no daylight.  I’ve been writing this gossip column for the town rag, just a cussed piece of dog log.  I need to get my family out of this hole in the ground, got to live again, get them and me out into the world.  Been hiding myself Doc… guess I should’ve been talking about this stuff long time ago.

 

QUAKENBUSH

 

We have to stop now.  Would you like to meet again?

 

FOX

 

Cuss yeah, Doc.

 

 

 

View from the Couch
4 Comments to “View from the Couch: The Fantastic Mr. Fox”
  1. Jolyn Welsh Wagner says:

    Click Click Whistle….what a wonderful claymation analytic moment….is Mr. Fox battling the unresolvable tension between his animal desires and his (higher-self) reason or struggling with the fallout of his frustrated, disappointing longings for the love of his fox-father? Would therapy assist the first dilemma?….click click whistle…..

  2. Marc Rosen says:

    Yeah, he is faced with something of a conflict. Does he squelch his nature, living underground as a gossip columnist/voyeur, or does he come out into the light of day and make news instead of reporting it? His post-Oedipal strivings are inhibited yet the resolution in the movie involves him and Ash coming to terms with oral depivation (possible starvation underground), anality (digging through dirt) castration anxiety (loss of his tail). Is the outcome successful? What do others think? Moreover, any ideas about how Session #2 would look? Also, what would Wes Anderson or Raold Dahl think about their title character on the couch?

  3. Jolyn Welsh Wagner says:

    my guess is that session #2 will include Mr. Fox’s first dream….a result of all the good stuff that got stirred up in his session with the dr.(and in keeping with the themes reminiscent of the Sopranos–which if you recall included “ducks” quack quack)….guess we might be lucky enough to find out..right?

  4. Bruce Russell says:

    Don’t forget that Mr. Fox changed the title of his column from “Fox About Town” to “Fox on the Prowl.” While I could not make out all of what was written in the sample column of “Fox on the Prowl” (by using my pause button), I did pick out one group of sentences that went something like: People think that everything happens for a reason. They’re wrong. Things happen because of luck and the infinite, limitless cosmos (or chaos?). Sounds like Fox turned filosophical!

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