Sneak Peek: Captain Fantastic
From Bleecker Street: Deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, isolated from society, a devoted father (Viggo Mortensen) dedicates his life to transforming his six young children into extraordinary adults. But when a tragedy strikes the family, they are forced to leave this self-created paradise and begin a journey into the outside world that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent and brings into question everything he’s taught them. (119 minutes, Rated R)
Written & Directed by: Matt Ross (28 Hotel Rooms)
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell, Ann Dowd, Erin Moriarty, and Missi Pyle. With Kathryn Hahn and Steve Zahn.
This transcript has been lightly edited:
The Referee: I love — love, love, love — access to “Sneak Peeks.” (laughter)
The Critic: Yes. (sings) “Love, love, love.”
Ref: We do the work, so you don’t have to, seriously. (laughter) We had an amazing opportunity to go see “Captain Fantastic” — yes, I love the title — written and directed by Matt Ross, who is an actor you probably know: “Silicon Valley.” The list goes on and on. But, it’s starring one of my favorite actors. And, in fact, I think one of our favorite actors.
Critic: Oh, yeah. Viggo Mortensen.
Ref: Viggo Mortensen of “Lord of the Rings,” among others.
Critic: That’s right.
Ref: And, of course, the wonderful Frank Langella, who makes a wonderful appearance in this movie.
Critic: Love him.
Ref: But, a bunch of kids, basically. Viggo and a bunch of kids.
Critic: (laughing) Yeah, because Mr. Mortensen plays a father of six children. One, two, three, four, five, SIX kiddies. And, the mother’s gone. Now, they’re living …
Ref: She’s gone, tragically.
Critic: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Now, they are living in the forest in the Pacific Northwest — in the mountains.
Critic: He is raising them alone. He’s schooling them. He’s training them, especially, to survive. The very first scene! Mr. Matt Ross, the director, tells us, “You’re gonna take this seriously.” And, then, we pull back: We see the love. We see the nurturing. As you’re watching Viggo as this father, you don’t quite know how to take him. Is he dangerous or not? Are these kids being taken care of? Maybe he has something in his head that would work for everybody. I don’t know. Maybe he’s on to something. But, his wife, her parents, especially her father, played by Frank Langella: He does not agree with what’s going on. So, what happens is: There’s a funeral. Mr. Viggo shows up with the children, and all “you know what” breaks loose. So, at the end of this movie, the question is this: Does he change? Does he stay the same? Are these kids in the right place or not? And, do the kids agree or not?
Ref: The thing about it is: Viggo is training these kids outside of the system of America. So, it’s not like they’re going in and out of town and going to school and being trained. They’re actually separate from the system of American society, and the wonderful thing about this movie is that it comments on how to raise children in modern-day society. Do you take them out? Do you put them in? Do you sit them in front of a video game? Or, do you train them like Olympian athletes?
Critic: Right. (laughter)
Ref: And, some people — like his sister, who he goes and visits, which is a wonderful little scene — those of us who think that we’re doing the best for our bodies and the best for our children and eating organically and getting our children the best education, there’s a wonderful scene where Viggo sort of — not, sort of — he just displays the blatant differences between how he raises his kids and how his sister raises kids. And, I think it’s one of the highlights of the movie and definitely worth a check-out for that — to see a little six-year-old school this little 13-year-old boy, basically.
Critic: Yeah, two of them. And, you know, this movie to me, Ref: Oh, my goodness! I was transported. I was transfixed. I thought, from top to bottom, when they said something, it was supposed to be said. When we saw something, we were supposed to see it. The blend of sight and sound was great. It looked beautiful. And, Viggo — I think this role for him is, probably, the best-matched role that he’s ever had. I mean, he is this guy. You completely buy it. You get his humanity. You get his gentleness. But, you also know he is not somebody to be trifled with. Plus, this man may surprise you in his introspection. I just thought it was beautiful.
Ref: Beautifully, um … if I have to say anything that would be corrected or any kind of criticism — and I’m searching. I’m literally searching, trying to find something, ‘cause I really enjoyed this movie.
Ref: The only thing is: The language that the children use is language that Harvard professors would use. (laughter) Because, they’re on that level. They’re very intelligent children. And the actors — some of the little ones, especially — sort of fumbled around with some of that language. But, then, at the end of the day, that’s what kids would do naturally, anyway. So, I’m really, really stretching. … I have to say my final verdict is: If you see this movie anywhere near you, check it out. If it’s not near you, I would definitely hit up your carrier, once it comes out, or Netflix or Redbox or anything like that. It is definitely going to be worth your time.
Critic: Exactly. This might have its “Little Miss Sunshine” moment. Who knows?