Captain Fantastic (2016)
It is the year 2016, but Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) lives in a forest where he is currently raising his 6 children by himself, with little contact to the outside world. His wife left the family some time ago to get mental health treatment, but when he finds out that she committed suicide, he must venture with his kids into the civilized world in order to give his wife the proper burial that her father (Frank Langella) refuses to honor.
Captain Fantastic is a unique look at how families operate in today’s world. Ben Cash is raising his children in modern times out in the middle of the wilderness with no internet or electronics. He teaches his children how to be adults while they are still teenagers. They are taught how to survive and live off the land. They are intelligent individuals who read classic literature and speak the open truth. Ben holds nothing back from his children so when he has to deal with the tragedy of his wife dying, his kids learn the truth as well.
I give this movie props for trying to do something different and to look at the family dynamic in today’s world, but this movie is more about individuality and realizing that some people in this world want different things. Ben is upset that his wife’s wishes are not being carried out by her father and he feels obligated to honor her wishes, even if it will embarrass others. The interesting part is that Ben nor his children are embarrassed, it is only the people from the “civilized world” who find Ben’s behavior disruptive and odd. It shows how the “norm” is not always right, but because it is the “norm,” it has to be the right way, and for this behavior, Ben is threatened with having his kids taken away to learn these “norms.”
At the end of the day, Captain Fantastic is a message to people that we are not all the same. Just because someone is different in the way they raise their families doesn’t mean they are wrong. This movie isn’t exactly a movie for entertainment, but it shows a side of Viggo Mortensen we haven’t seen before and it is special. Unfortunately for me, this kind of movie isn’t my style and I wasn’t invested in this story or characters like I might normally be. This movie was merely ok, but I can see the artistic value in it. Co-starring Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Ann Dowd, Annalise Basso, George MacKay, Nicholas Hamilton, and Sami Isler.
5/10 Stars – I can see the strong message in this well-told story, but this movie wasn’t something that moved me like I wish.