Wes Anderson’s most recent film, as of late September 2021, is the 2018 animated film Isle of Dogs. This movie marked his return to the stop-motion animation style he used for Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Isle of Dogs is rated PG-13 for “thematic elements and violent images,” which seems a bit of a stretch. Most of Anderson’s movies are rated R, which seems unusual given his twee sensibility, until you start to catalog the foul language, frank sexuality and bursts of violence. The two animated films, however, are certainly appropriate for kids.
One reason I love Isle of Dogs is that my own kid adores it even more. I took then 12-year-old Fiona to see this movie in the theater and was delighted by her enthusiastic response. She has since watched it countless times, has the poster on her bedroom wall, and counts it among her very favorite movies.
She and I share an appreciation of the film’s melancholy vibe, its soothing aesthetic, and its dry humor.
I wrote about this movie at length when it first came out so I’ll link to that post rather than recap the plot here. This is one of Anderson’s most imaginative works, and one that rewards repeat viewings to capture small details in the corners of every frame.
One thing that struck me while rewatching all nine of Anderson’s films is the economy and crispness of his storytelling. All of his movies clock in around a breezy 90-105 minutes, even when they span multiple decades and/or locations. He unfurls his stories through flashbacks, narration and visual cues, keeping you guessing but never confused.
Anderson gets a lot of attention for the look of his films, but he is equally gifted as a screenwriter. Isle of Dogs is a splendid example of both.
I wound up placing this film a notch below Fantastic Mr. Fox, mostly because of the persistent sweetness of the latter. But both movies are brilliant examples of the stop-motion art form, and I hope Anderson will return to it again someday.
My pretentiousness radar went off from the first time I saw a preview, but, at least in part based on critics and you fawning on it, I watched the movie under admittedly less than ideal conditions on a plane. My travel companion/son Daniel watched it in the seat next to me and seemed to enjoy it.
However, like nearly all other Anderson films, this movie left me cold and bored. Whether Anderson’s humor is described as “madcap” or dry, i simply don’t find his movies all that funny, and his film style/aesthetic creates an emotional distance rather than drawing me in as my favorite movies do.
For me, watching a Wes Anderson movie is like seeing what is considered a great work of art by an avant-garde artist at a museum. In the moment, I might appreciate the art work, and sometimes I “get it” and sometimes I don’t, but, regardless, the feeling is transitory and doesn’t stay with me after I leave the museum.
I’m glad I decided to watch this movie. I found it to be charming ❤️
I discovered tonight that neither Dana nor Daniel ever even finished this film as the plane landed before it ended! 🤣. I will find a time to see it soon as I want in on this debate. 😜