Movie Review: Captain Fantastic (2016)

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Plot: In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

I have only had the pleasure to find a handful of films that had the power to make me consider whether my beliefs need to be reevaluated, managed to be ingenious and non-offensive and maintain originality. I also need to listen when the entire world tells me to go watch a movie because I will like it. Finally sitting down to watch Captain Fantastic was a rewarding experience and something I will gladly do again.

It’s an easy way to go with this review, but let me tell you, Captain Fantastic, is, well, friggin Fantastic. Viggo Mortensen, also known as Lord Aragorn and King of My Heart*, plays Ben Cash, a survivalist living with his 6 children and wife Leslie in the Washington wilderness. Following Leslie’s suicide, Ben decides to take his children to her funeral, inciting the wrath of his father in law, who does not agree with how his grand children are being raised.

The movie was ready with answers to all the questions I could think of. The first is naturally the presumption that survivalists are ill-informed and uneducated. Leslie was an attorney before she and Ben moved to the Wilderness. Ben’s youngest daughter is more capable of reciting and understanding the Bill of Rights than the teenager of his sister. They are taught to think critically and not only to parrot information, but to understand and dissect facts. They are well fed and although their lifestyle is unorthodox, they are taken care of. Ben doesn’t abuse his children – physically or through the neglect so accidentally bestowed upon children in modern society.

Ben also tells his children the truth. He doesn’t hide it that their mother committed suicide, and meets his and their grief face on. He doesn’t lie about sex or make it a taboo subject – it is just another topic in their household. While I can’t really see myself being quite that open to young children, I do like that it didn’t turn into this sneaky taboo thing our Western society makes it to be.

Then there is also literally everyone else in the movie, who believes Ben is either insane or just plain wrong. And are they wrong? They are all acting out of concern and clearly love Ben and his children. Ben’s father in law (played by Frank Langella) is the most vocal about it and even though he serves as the “antagonist”, he’s clearly not a bad man and wants the best for his grand kids who he so clearly adores.

I don’t have kids and I don’t plan on having some anytime soon, but I think the majority of parents want the best for their children. This movie explores a far right approach to parenting and is shot well enough with enough consideration to present this insane approach as viable. Viggo Mortensen and the rest of the cast are incredible carriers of this story – the accolade of best actor would have been well bestowed on this nominee at the Oscars. There is depth and knowledge in the way he carries this role and seems to be Ben completely. I also particularly liked George McKay as Bo, because his story was at a critical time where he had to move on to the next phase of his life. His knowledge about everything yet about nothing when it comes to being a real teenager was well played out by the actor, and he also managed to make the situations he finds himself in a bit funny while also highlighting what is wrong with Ben’s parenting approach.

The ending is satisfactory – a little yielding in Ben’s approach to accommodate the needs of his growing children, and yet it still remains in line with what he holds as the truth in his heart. It does show that at the end of all his eccentricity, he loves his children and is willing to do everything for them.

Rating: 9/10

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Movie Review: Bad Moms (2016)

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Plot: When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun, and comedic self-indulgence.

I really expected to be either wildly irritated or exasperated by Bad Moms. I wasn’t – It was actually a surprisingly fun film and catered exactly for its target audience. Mila Kunis plays Amy, an overworked mother of two young children. If you can believe she’s supposed to be washed out, well, you can believe anything. She’s still crazy gorgeous despite her wearing adult clothes all the time. Her husband is her third child – a boy-man who does nothing to help her with raising children and is eventually caught in an online cheating scandal. This understandably leads Amy to lose her shit. She drops pretending to be the perfect mother that actually cares about the strict rules Gwendolyn, who is the perfect president of the Parents association, sets. Gwendolyn subsequently loses her patience and war erupts in the pretty suburban life of these women. Amy decides to run for president at school and she teams up with Kathryn Hahn’s Carla, and Kristen Bell’s Kiki, and eventually ends up winning (if you don’t expect this you are a dumb-dumb) and shows the mothers their children are supposed to be kids and be fun and have a good time.

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I didn’t expect this amount of heart in this silly little film. There is warmth and humor and some prodding reminders that children are supposed to be young and play outside, not to be rushed from exams to sports to cultural activities. Hahn has some funny moments, though she really is typecast at the moment. It is always good seeing Kristen Bell in anything – she’s so adorably weird and this film doesn’t try to change that – Kiki is weird as hell.

I can’t really comment on more in this film – it is just a for fun film, there is a pretty hot guy, some pretty hot moms and just a film to relax with. This really isn’t for all you I-only-watch-serious-movies people, so if you don’t want a silly comedy, just don’t watch it J

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: How to lose a guy in ten days (2003)

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Plot: Benjamin Barry is an advertising executive and ladies’ man who, to win a big campaign, bets that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. Andie Anderson covers the “How To” beat for “Composure” magazine and is assigned to write an article on “How to Lose a Guy in 10 days.” They meet in a bar shortly after the bet is made.  

Rating: 6.5/10

Before yelling All right, all right all right, wearing a cowboy hat and going into space, Matthew McConaughey was best known for acting in a long list of questionable romantic comedies. Since it kept that handsome mug of his fed I’m not too despondent about it, and he was able to star in a number of slightly amusing ones, such as How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days.

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It is easy to say what I liked – I found the stints Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson) pulled on Benjamin Barry hilarious. They are such cliché’s and so highly irritating I’m surprised the character didn’t completely lose his mind. Kate Hudson displayed a good amount of comedic ability and it seemed that she was having a great time with this movie. The inclusion of Kathryn Hahn and Adam Goldberg as colleagues slash friends to Andy and Benjamin respectively were also good decisions as they are great supporting actors. The plot managed to maintain its cool – I’m not going to claim that this is a plausible scenario nor a very wise one, but they did manage to link the two characters up by deliberate actions of Barry’s coworkers. The only scene to which I took exception to was the singing at the formal dinner party – I mean which two professional people would do that with both their employers present?

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How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days isn’t the type of film to win an Oscar obviously, but I don’t think it had ever such esteemed expectations during production. From a comedic standpoint it had some great laughs and from a romantic one it isn’t nauseating mostly because our main female lead was from the start cynical and amused at her job challenge. It is highly recommended that you don’t watch this if you can’t switch off your brain once in a while to enjoy a movie though – not for the very serious minded movie buffs 😀

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PS: As a side note to romantic comedies I might add that the valuable lesson that can be taken from this is to never play with other people’s emotions. It is really not nice to use someone as an article accessory or to win a bet at work, idiots.