Voices by Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Kunichi Nomura, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Akira Ito, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe, Fisher Stevens, Liev Schreiber, Courtney B. Vance
Directed by Wes Anderson
2018 / 101 Minutes / 20th Century Fox
Review by Elise
I’m a fan of Wes Anderson movies in general, aside from The Darjeeling Limited, and I’m also fascinated by Japanese culture. But if you’re looking for a movie that has an accurate representation of Japanese culture, this movie is obviously not it. It’s a movie set in Japan but it’s not really about Japan or its people. It also does not contain any human beings because the entire movie is stop motion animation.
Instead it follows a rag tag group of dogs, who’ve been exiled to Trash Island due to an outbreak of dog flu, and a little pilot named Atari who has crash landed in a stolen plane in order to find his beloved guard dog Spots. Atari is actually in the care of Mayor Kobayashi, the man who ordered the exile of dogs from Megasaki City in the first place, so the hunt to find him makes national news. This catches the attention of a foreign exchange student, who rallies her fellow students to investigate what’s really going on. For me, the foreign exchange student was the only negative aspect of this film as I think her character was completely unnecessary and it was kind of a lame excuse to have one character speaking English (every human character in this movie speaks Japanese whereas all the dogs have been translated to English).
There are so many droll and cutesy elements of this movie that it’s hard to keep track of, as is the case with most of Anderson’s films. The dogs love gossip. A dog is considered an oracle because she can understand what’s on TV. A dog voiced by Bill Murray is wearing a baseball uniform. All the evil characters have cats who have permanent scowls on their faces. The list goes on and on. But behind all these twee elements is a heartwarming story reminding you that all dogs want is to be loved and to be your best friend. I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING.