CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Review
MODERN DAY BARRENS
A Review By Ben Hunter
4 Out Of 5 Stars
GET TO THE POINT BEN!
Some points need to unravel a bit to get the sour taste of “typical Hollywood agenda” from my mouth.
Always treat a woman with dignity and respect. Especially when you make love to her and even more so if you’re not in love with her. Always tell the truth, never hide any secrets from the ones you share your heart with. Always keep yourself open, willing to expand and grow from the circumstances of the world around you. Listen to your heart … and live!
These are the values that unconventional Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) instills in his son as he sends him off into the world. Just one of six that he and his wife, Leslie, raise in a rather outlandish manner, off the grid. A Swiss Family Robinson of the new millennial. Everyone seems to be okay with this lifestyle. They grow and garden, they hunt, gut, and cook their own meat, they still contribute to the economy by giving back to the Earth and to civilization what they truly feel contributes to the betterment of society. With augmentation of their intense, physical development, Ben drills his children about history, politics, enterprise, art, and culture, feverishly testing them and staying on top of their studies and making sure they read endless amounts of literature. His children are EXTREMELY book smart and street smart in the way of nature but completely inept when it comes to the actual streets of the city.
|A modern day Swiss Family Robinson of the new millennial.|
While on a local trip into town one day, Ben makes a routine call to his sister Harper (Kathryn Hahn) to check up on his wife who is in the hospital suffering from her Bipolar disorder. She informs Ben that her condition worsened and that she has committed suicide. This devastates everyone. Leslie’s parents, Jack & Abigail (Frank Langella & Ann Dowd) are furious with Ben as they blame him and the path he’s led their daughter upon to her death. Jack is outward with his anger, Abigail more remorseful and depressed but not neglecting the responsibility being put upon Ben’s shoulders for her daughter’s safety. Jack threatens Ben by having him arrested if he attends the funeral.
Smitten and depressed, Ben continues his daily teachings and training with the children as they demand to see their mother and properly send her off. With her will in possession, Ben knows her dying wishes and deep down inclines to honor them as they are different from the traditional honoring her parents are in the midst of proceeding with. So Ben takes the children on a road trip. Through the city they go. Into foreign territory they roam. With no experience or knowledge outside of what they read within their studies they trot. To confront a society that confronts their choice to differently participate in the circulation. All in an effort to remain true to their beliefs, and to hold dear the values they cherish. To listen to one’s heart … and live!
Well, I must say, from the opening title card, my eyes lit open wide! That’s usually a sign of good things to come when a film initially commands your attention. I really liked that. And then I counted at least 4 strikes that reminded me that this is Hollywood. 4 good, if not more, middle fingers to everyone who thinks in the traditional sense that this country was founded upon and that people hold dear. Just like the values Ben & Leslie strive to hold dear. “Nope, anyone who thinks inside this idiotic, one-sided, point of view, needs to stop being intolerant of others!” As Hollywood continues to push their narrative of tolerance as the only narrative.
|Putting their survival skills from dear ol' Dad to the test.|
Nonetheless, I counted at least 4 strikes. You would think I’d have stopped at 3, as was my initial intention. But this is a whole and complete story. There’s substance here and a genuine lesson to be learned. So, with love in my heart, and an eager film geek within to be entertained, I progressed. We learn everything isn’t as honky-dory as Ben wanted. As any couple, Ben & Leslie had fights. As with every family, some children don’t like the life their parents have created for them. And this starts to come to light. We witness the rapport of Ben with his sister and her husband (Steve Zahn), what life is like when Ben’s kids know it’s just them and Daddy from now on. And all of this weight on Ben’s shoulders to keep his family together. All situations filled with principle and doctrine in which we all can relate to.
I found myself taking both sides of the argument when presented. My brother is taking a different path, so I rightfully object as this is my family as well. But when differed with signs of positive outcome, I suddenly feel no right to speak at all. It’s a very challenging film that takes it to one’s outlook on their life and the lives of others.
However, as finding the common ground as it was in the end, as understanding of the common person viewing this story as it is, I just couldn’t accept a lot of what this was pushing. Regardless of how well it connects in the end. Giving 7/8 year old children hunting knives as gifts that they play with in addition to why it was gifted. Encouraging theft if there’s a good cause for it, even if it is only once or if they learn teamwork as a result. All wrapped up in the overarching, liberal agenda of Hollywood. “If we’re all united against Christians, it’s okay because we’re all united. Who cares what they think? What we think supersedes that!” So had a few story points been unraveled, but were probably cut short due to length and timing restraints, I probably would have this sour taste in my mouth removed and feel overall positive about this story. With a message more along the lines of, “Hey, we’re all different, and that’s okay :)”
But an exhilarating narrative even so. It all pretty much wraps up in the end, for the most part. Enough that it leaves you smiling and giving them a thumbs up or slight applause for satisfactory effort. If nothing else, you’ll look up the “send away” song on iTunes while the credits roll.
Captain Fantastic (2016)
Dramedy, 118 Minutes, R
Written & Directed By: Matt Ross
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Ann Dowd, & Frank Langella