Movie Name: Captain Fantastic
Studio: Electric City Entertainment
Release Date(s): January 23, 2016 (Sundance Film Festival)/July 8, 2016 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his family live in the woods of Washington and reject society. When Ben’s wife commits suicide, Ben must face a difficult decision…go against his father-in-law’s orders and attend the funeral with the children or do nothing to honor his wife’s wishes. Ben and his family decide to hit the road but discover that Ben and his wife’s alternative lifestyles have had both positive and negative effects on their children…and the trip could change Ben’s life forever.
Written and directed by Matt Ross, Captain Fantastic is a drama-comedy. Released at Sundance, the movie was released to critical acclaim (especially for Mortensen’s performance).
Captain Fantastic is a movie that wasn’t really on the radar for me until awards season arrived. I missed it in the theaters and checked out the movie…it is an uncomfortable film, but it is a film that offers a lot of surprises and some laughs.
The plot for Captain Fantastic is both its blessing and its curse. I was surprised by the direction of the movie and liked that you couldn’t predict the direction of the film. It does fall into some of the cliché plotlines, but then it rejects them in the next scene. What you expect to happen doesn’t always happen, but it still seems predictable at points.
Mortensen is great as the driven Cash who is so determined to break social constrains that he doesn’t necessarily question if it is the right thing for his family. Yes, his children are smarter than the average kid, but they don’t have the social ability to fit in (and in turn change the system that he hates). Steve Zahne and Kathryn Hahn play part of the frustrated family and Frank Langella is the angry father-in-law who doesn’t believe anything that Ben is trying to do. The children also do a great job with George MacKay, Nicholas Hamilton, and Annalise Basso taking the biggest roles.
The movie looks great. It is easy to see how a person like Ben could be in love with a place like Washington woods and coastline. It is shot with a lot of style. The movie is a dark comedy and the jokes must also be told visually as a result. Things like the trip to the funeral by the “odd” family is a great visual along with the final resting place for their mother.
Captain Fantastic is a worthy movie that stemmed from the director’s question if he was raising his kids right. The movie is good in that it doesn’t land on one person being right or wrong. It is a look at a real question by parents about how to raise (or not raise) a kid in the age of helicopter parenting. Now, go out there and climb that cliff face!