Movie Review: Isle of Dogs

By Ceara Kelly, Contributor
[Indian Paintbrush; 2018]
Rating: 6.5/10

If it were possible to rate a dog-related content alone, Isle of Dogs would easily receive 10/10 for good boys. Unfortunately, ACRN is not in the business of reviewing dogs. The actual movie is just as kitschy as one expects from any other Wes Anderson production and is equally as enjoyable as his past work, though it could have gone without a few less extreme close-ups on clay faces with disturbing teeth.

The story is about a young boy doing everything in his power to save his dog from isolation on Trash Island. Dogs were sentenced to life on the island because of the rampant spread of “dog flu” and “snout fever”, which really only means adorable little dog sneezes sprinkled throughout the movie. As the young boy, Atari, tries to save his dog Spot, the government on the mainland tries to quell the “pro-dog voices”. That’s actually the most unbelievable part of the movie. In what world would the majority want to be rid of all the cute, fluffy dogs?

Speaking of adorable dogs, the animation is phenomenal. Stop-motion movies always get a little extra praise just because the effort put into them is mind-boggling. Isle of Dogs is even more spectacular as it is now tied for the longest stop-motion film in history with Kubo and the Two Strings. These models are handcrafted and hand-positioned for every frame of this film. Just thinking of all the possible mistakes is incredibly stressful, so to have a movie as fantastic as this is a feat.

There is one major problem with this movie. While it’s beautiful and full of that quirky, offbeat humor we’ve come to expect from Anderson, it suffers from a major plague in Hollywood. There are so many painfully forced romances in the movie. The main dog has one scene with another dog at the start of the movie, and in the end, they’re dog married. The dogs are good boys, Wes. They don’t need to date! Even the kid is in a romance. He is twelve and ends up with the female lead who he had never even met or had a conversation with. It makes no sense for the pacing of the movie, the overall character arcs, nothing. All it did is take a fast-paced adventure and stop its cold in its tracks so dogs could make dog sex jokes.

Some people may also find the way the story is told a little annoying. Only the dogs and Greta Gerwig’s character speak English, while everyone else speaks Japanese and are translated by the film’s news anchors and the occasional prop usage. Still, the villains, Atari, the supporting human cast, are all speaking Japanese. If subtitles and translation jokes aren’t your thing maybe don’t see this movie.

Overall this movie is going to be another Wes Anderson success. It’s got everything his die-hard fans love: centered shots, yellow, offbeat humor, Bill Murray. However, people who wouldn’t give their left kidney to see a new Anderson film will also find it plenty enjoyable for its jokes and overall heartwarming plot about a boy willing to do anything for his dog. After all, who doesn’t love dogs?

Watch the trailer here:

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