Note: This is a spoiler-free Isle of Dogs review
Director Wes Anderson is at a point in his career where has created expectations with his past films. Wes Anderson always meets expectations.
Isle of Dogs is exactly the film you would anticipate from Wes Anderson; a Hollywood movie with an indie feel. Add a bunch of famous voices bringing witty humor and you’re immersed in the Anderson template.
A quick word about the Isle of Dogs plot in case you aren’t familiar. The film follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his lost dog in a 4-part story.
The cast of characters this time around are mostly dogs who are unjustly banished to a place off the coast of Japan called Trash Island (naturally. Don’t forget we’re talking Wes Anderson here). And it is quite a cast, featuring Bryan Cranston, Ed Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Liev Schreiber, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban, and Yoko Ono among others (naturally. Don’t forget we’re talking Wes Anderson here).
You main man this time around is Cranston, who voices Chief. He and his band of alpha dogs provide most of the entertainment. They include Rex (Norton), King (Balaban), Boss (Murray), and Duke (Goldblum).
Much like in real life, there’s a dog for everyone in Isle of Dogs. Chief is a hardened realist. Rex is an eternal optimist. Boss is silly and fun. Duke is an “informant”, but also a bit of a gossip. The film does a great job creating relatable characters, and each person who sees the movie will probably walk away with a different favorite.
This is a story about a boy who loves his dog, which adds something for me as someone who loved (and lost) his dog. My loss is fairly recent, so it could be more obvious to me. I would move heaven and earth if my dog was exiled to a place called Trash Island because, let’s face it, he was better than most people. That includes you.
Young Atari feels the same way I do. There is no better relationship than a boy’s (or girl’s) with his dog. This film showcases that in the quirkiest way possible.
There is also a larger political statement made in Isle of Dogs, but I give Anderson credit here. He doesn’t shove any of his message in your face, and kind of just pokes fun at today’s climate. It’s not really noticeable unless you’re looking for it, which I always am. Anderson is always subtle anyway, in that everything is moving quickly and you’ll miss something if you’re not careful. He takes the same approach talking politics here, and it works.
Should I Go See Isle of Dogs?
There is a simple answer to this one. Into Wes Anderson’s style of movie? This is a good one. Not into it? This movie may not be for you. Never seen an Anderson film and want to try him out? Isle of Dogs is a good option to get started.
(Featured Image via Fox Searchlight)