Review: Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic is a comedy written and directed by Matt Ross, and stars Viggo Mortensen as Ben Cash, and an ensemble of young and relatively unknown actors and actresses as his six kids. Together, they live in the wilderness, away from society and civilization because Ben and his late wife Leslie wanted their kids to grow up as smart minds and loving souls, unplagued by the people in the world around them. If not done right, this film could have been preachy hippy bullshit, but because of Matt Ross’ care, and the fantastic performances, this film stands out as a shining beacon of quality, originality, and artistic beauty….

As mentioned, this story is about a few hippies, who run off to live in the woods. If this film was told from Ben’s in-laws (and I’m sure a film like that has been made), the audience would definitely find it easy to not agree with Ben’s methods, decisions or lifestyle, but because Matt Ross sets up these characters and their story so perfectly, they do not seem crazy at all, but reasonable. At it’s heart, this movie is all about being the kind of person you should be for society, instead of being the kind of person society wants you to be. In other words, being a kind, loving, educated and judgement-free citizen instead of conforming to the world, is the best way to live the happiest life, even if those around you don’t see it that way. An ideal like this is not always popular in film, which is why I love the indies- because they have the balls to go against the grain and be unique. Unpredictability and originality can be found at every corner of this work of art, and all of that is due to the genius that flows from Matt Ross’ fingers as a writer and director. The plot is just as unique as the characters’ personalities, and the movie was moving and interesting for the entire run-time because of that. I have not been as impressed by the intelligence of a film all year long, and that is due to the dialogue, as well as the characters, who are extremely well developed and easy to love. This film is extremely endearing, and hilarious; as either a comedic drama or a dramatic comedy, it works on all levels.

Captain Fantastic looks absolutely gorgeous as well; the cinematography is mesmerizing, and it drew me in from the very beginning. That, and the score/soundtrack, which was beautiful in every way, made this film a delight of a movie-watching experience. And, of course, one of the most praise-worthy elements was Viggo Mortensen. This movie made me want to go back and watch The Lord of the Rings again, because he is lovable on every level, and his character was brought to life perfectly. George MacKay as Bo was also incredible, really along with the rest of the entire ensemble cast of this movie. This would be a very easy film to get wrong, but Matt Ross and his cast do a wonderful job in keeping that from happening, and allowing this film to reach greatness. I had a blast with Swiss Army Man because of it’s tone, characters, story, look, sound, and originality, but I had 10x as much fun with Captain Fantastic, which is saying a lot. The only, only part of this film that I didn’t love (and in fact, I really don’t like this part at all) is the title. The title is unmemorable, unrepresentative of the story or any aspect of the film, and simply doesn’t make sense to me at all- there are 1,000 different titles for this film that would work better in every way, and I have no idea why this is called what it is. I just hope I remember what the title is for the next time I want to watch this film, because it’s definitely one that I’ll want to watch again soon.

Overall, Captain Fantastic was even more than simply fantastic- it was a beautiful film because of the story, characters, cinematography, and really everything else. Matt Ross gives us a very intelligent, hilarious, and endearing story about expectations, and being the best person possible for yourself, and especially those around you. There are so many moments in this film that I’m going to remember for a long time, and there are so many quotes from this film that I want hung on my wall. There’s so many truly great parts of this film, and nothing that I do not like about this film except for the title, and I’m going to give this film a glowing 9+/10, and a GOLD review! This will easily be one of my top 3-5 of the year, depending on how Silence, A Monster Calls, and the like go. I can’t wait to watch it again, and I very much think that you should watch it too. If you have seen this, what did you think about it? As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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