Tony's Take

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC review

Captain Fantastic posterFamily Values.  Power to the People.  Stick it to the Man.

What exactly does it mean to be a parent?  While I certainly cannot answer that question, it is a topic of great discussion in “Captain Fantastic”.  The film follows a family in the Pacific Northwest that lives in the wilderness, free of social norms, media, and cultural distraction.  Ben and Leslie moved out to their home in the forest some years ago and have raised their kids by themselves.  While other kids play video games and eat junk food, this family reads heavy philosophical books, train to rock climb, hunt, and defend their own lives, as well as are home schooled.  When tragedy strikes and their mother unexpectedly passes away, they have a choice to make.  Do they follows their grandparent’s orders and stay away from their mother’s funeral or do they go rescue her so she can have her last will’s order followed: cremated, celebrated, and dumped down the drain in a public place.  With the possibility of losing their father as well, the family elects not to be “held-down” and decide to make the trip to New Mexico to say goodbye to mom.  During the journey, Ben teaches the kids some life lessons (both correct and incorrect), as well as face the struggles of his choices as the kids are obviously not ready for the real World.

Viggo Mortensen stars as the overly-protective and devoted father, Ben.  Mortensen gives his all in the role, showcasing a wide array of emotions throughout and is constantly giving us his all effortlessly.  George MacKay plays the eldest son in the family, Bo.  Samantha Isler and Annalise Basso play the two oldest daughters, Kielyr and Vespyr.  Nicholas Hamilton plays the middle son, Rellian.  Shree Crooks plays the youngest daughter Zaja and Charlie Shotwell plays the youngest son, Nai.  Trin Miller plays the mother, Leslie.  Kathryn Hahn and Steve Zahn play their aunt and uncle, Harper and Dave.  Elijah Stevenson and Teddy Van Ee plays their children, Justin and Jackson.  Erin Moriarty plays Claire and her mother Ellen is played by Missi Pyle.  Frank Langella and Ann Dowd play Leslie’s distraught parents, Jack and Abigail.

“Captain Fantastic” is a beautiful combination of raw emotion and philosophical conquests; filled with plenty of laughter and strong life lessons, leaving the audience to question their beliefs and customs throughout.  At its heart, the film is a fantastic tale of survival and the lengths one man will go to raise his kids in the best possible environment he sees fit.  It is truly quite remarkable (if only just a film) that the children were reading heavy-knowledge books before other kids their age even learned basic history; not to mention that they were rock climbing before the age of 10.  At the surface Ben’s methods seem outlandish, but he has a perfectly good explanation for each one.  As I mentioned earlier, “Captain Fantastic” has plenty of humor, coming mostly within the cultural differences and parental guidance; as well at all of the shots on our society today.  Hearing an eight year old kid say “Power to the people, stick it to the man” had me laughing hysterically, not to mention a very straightforward conversation about the birds and the bees.  However, “Captain Fantastic” does take some liberties with its story, forgoing belief and relying on “movie magic” for a few sequences.  “Captain Fantastic” has a run time of 118 minutes and only drags a little during the film’s final third.  The film feels like an indie in every sense of the word, but “Captain Fantastic” is heartfelt and moving; one of the more beautiful films of 2016!

“Captain Fantastic” follows a family as their lives are turned upside-down and their forced to face the World.  The film features plenty of beautiful, heartfelt messages, humor, and an unbiased look at today’s society.  If you are loving for a moving and morally-strong film this weekend, go see “Captain Fantastic”!!

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CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is rated R for language and brief graphic nudity, in theaters  JULY 22ND! 

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