Unconventional Fatherhood – Captain Fantastic (2016)

The other modern family.  So this about a father of six (Viggo Mortensen).  He lives with his kids out in the wilderness, choosing to be completely removed from society, home schooling his kids and giving them rigorous training and exercise.  When a death causes him to take his children back to civilization, it disrupts his microcosm and makes him question what it means to be a parent.  This has been getting a lot of positive word of mouth, and it is very easy to see why.  If you like your movies that are indie, quirky and with a lot of heart and soul, then this is right up your alley.  Captain Fantastic if filled with poignant moments, and because this is the story of such a drastically oddball parent, it is wholly memorable.

2But if you don’t like your movies quirky, then keep on walking.

Even though this is an eccentric story, it does feel grounded in reality.  While you may not agree with this man’s choice in parenting style, it is kind of hard to argue with the results; they are ultimately getting everything they need, minus learning that ability to interact with society on the whole.  For example, there’s a scene where he asks his relative’s children what the Bill of Rights is, and he doesn’t get terribly good responses.  When he asks his 8-year-old daughter, she starts reciting it verbatim, and is then able to summarize it in her own words so as to showcase true critical thinking.  He also doesn’t treat his children like kids; he is upfront and candid with them, and he treats them like real people.  He also doesn’t have a single filter, and it is where the majority of the humor in this story comes from.  None of his relatives understand the way his brain operates, and as you can imagine, it leads to a lot of clashing within the family.

1Funeral attire.

There is a core part of me that doesn’t understand the desire to live off of the Earth and not live in air conditioning; we’ve evolved as a species so we don’t have to live like nomads, but who am I to judge what makes people happy.  Regardless, I do think that this movie lives up to its name for the most part, and I was thoroughly engaged by this throughout.  All of the kids do well in their roles, and they are about as odd as you would imagine a family of no social experience.  It’s really Mortensen’s movie to sell, though, and he really turns it up a notch when they reach civilization.  If you think this movie sounds appealing to you, you should check it out, because it was made with you in mind.

Captain Fantastic (2016) ****

– Critic for Hire


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