Captain Fantastic is the story of a man raising his six children and dealing with the loss of his wife/their mother. The family is a little different than most and is living off the grid, outside of “normal” society in the Pacific Northwest. The movie is able to make a ton of social commentary in just two hours, while not being overly annoying and in your face about it. It is still enjoyable to watch and even if you don’t agree with everything the filmmaker seems to be saying, it is still a fun one.
Everything from fatherhood to America’s obesity problem to religion to sex and nudity is discussed. The film uses the extreme lifestyle choices of Ben (Viggo Mortensen) to shine a light not he problems with American society at large. Ben’s children are said to be not ready for “real” life or that he is setting them up for failure several times throughout the movie. They are proven to be smarter and more physically fit than the people being raised in “normal” society as the film progresses.
The audience is introduced to Ben’s father-in-law about half way through the film. The father-in-law is a wealthy senior who is a contributing member of society with friends in high places. He comes across as a self righteous asshole who thinks that because he has money, he has all the power. He tries to convince the kids and Ben that they would be better off to stay with him and not their father. Luckily, the kids stick to the family mantra, “power to the people, stick it to the man.” They stay with their father after some soul searching by both the kids and their father. Greed and power can’t rule the people if they join together.
The film makes a point of showing that the kids are very intelligent when it comes to book smarts and survival skills, but are extremely inept when it comes to social norms. A great example is when the eldest son meets a girl at a camp site and they have a little make out session. He runs into her mother afterward and when she scolds them for coming home late, he proposes to the girl. Ben seems to realize by the end of the film that the kids need to have some social interactions outside of the family even though they maintain many of their beliefs. He seems to have found a good compromise to living completely outside of society and living within it. His children seem like they will be the most prepared in today’s society. They have the skills to survive that they would have needed hundreds or thousands of years ago and are starting to learn what they need now as well. Education is everywhere. It is not something that can be provided just by the public school system. The public school system is necessary in society today. It may not teach our children everything that they need to know, but it can point them in the right direction and parents can supplement that education at home. The film does a great job of showing this with just a few powerful scenes.
Captain Fantastic is one of those rare films that is both highly entertaining to just watch as a normal viewer or to sit down as a wannabe film turd and take notes on your computer so you can write a blog post about it. Check this one out.
P.S. You get to see Viggo Mortensen’s dick again. Fun stuff.
Check out the penis-free trailer here.
-By Eric Schmidt