February 26, 2017

Captain Fantastic (2016)

Viggo Mortensen

I'm just going to say it. Viggo Mortensen scares me. I don't know if it's the roles he chooses, or if his face is somehow inherently threatening, but he is like a non-mobster version of Ray Liotta.

I mention this because he manages to morph into a more compassionate figure as the single father of six kids. He's still super intense, as an anarchist of sorts, who trains his kids to "fight the power and stick it to the man." And he is completely believable as an "off the grid" type who hunts and grows his own food and refuses medical treatment for anything short of imminent death. These people exist. And now they will always look like Viggo Mortensen in my mind. (Not a terrible thing)

This movie is weird. The best way I can describe it is "the opposite of Little Miss Sunshine." The both feature a kooky family and a road trip, but while Little Miss Sunshine was meant to be uplifting and funny, Captain Fantastic is dark and sort of depressing. The family is almost like a cult with their strict adherence to schedule and eschewing of anything mainstream. Yet they are kind of so awesome you want them to stay that way forever. I mean, who doesn't want to have family rock climbing excursions and the ability to tell your kids the unvarnished truth? Sure, it's uncomfortable to watch Mortensen tell his eight-year-old exactly how sex works and why people do it, but isn't that actually more honest than lying and telling your kid he came from a stork? Is it really so crazy to treat kids as capable of independent analysis and complex thought?

Though the movie is much deeper than the seemingly ridiculous setup, the quirks of the family are what make the movie. Without their weirdness bonding them together, there would be no vehicle to showcase Mortensen's compassionate side, his kids' self-consciousness, or their fight against everything considered to be "normal" in this world. Their kookiness isn't just there for laughs, and that's what makes the whole movie worth watching.

Final word: One of the best "weird" movies.

P.S. Viggo goes full frontal in the movie. You see his penis. Twice. I just thought you should you be prepared for that.

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