Many of us can relate to the warm feelings dogs bring us. Dogs can bring fun, happiness and companionship, among other great qualities. Director Wes Anderson tries to tap into these feelings in his most recent film, Isle of Dogs, and he succeeds.
Social commentary isn’t necessarily the first thing that would come to mind when thinking about what a stop-motion movie is trying to do. But Isle of Dogs looks at two very different aspects of our everyday lives.
First, the movie addresses propaganda from the government. In the film, the mayor of a fictional city in Japan orders all dogs to be sent to Trash Island, which is quite literally an island full of trash. His reason for this is essentially that he is more of a “cat person” than a “dog person.” But he makes up problems that dogs are causing to be spread through the media so that there is a “legitimate” reason for their deportation. This seems to be a subtle jab at “fake news” and everything that comes along with it. It is easy to miss, but it is a fairly strong theme in the movie.
The second theme is much less political, but perhaps more powerful: the importance of the companionship of a dog. Atari, the young nephew of this Japanese mayor, had his dog sent to Trash Island and wants to get him back. This is the plot of the movie in its simplest form. So many of us could relate to that premise even with being at college while our pet is back home. We are inclined to root for Atari simply because we feel like we would do the same thing if we were in his situation. Anderson creates empathy for Atari and the dogs that carries on throughout the entire movie.
In typical Wes Anderson fashion, this movie is almost perfectly symmetrical. The way he sets up his shots and frames is just pleasing to look at. He is able to use these visuals to create comedy. It isn’t necessarily a laugh-out-loud comedy, but the dialogue and physical comedy will, at least, bring a smile to your face.
Beyond this, the settings that Anderson crafts are visually interesting. Whether it is a giant pile of random trash or a thought bubble to signify a character’s imagination, he shows off his creativity when it comes to creating good cinema.
Isle of Dogs may not be Wes Anderson’s best work, but it is a worthy addition to his filmography. It’s a fun and feel-good movie that continues the recent trend of extremely well-done animation. So if you’re missing your dog this weekend, Isle of Dogs is the perfect movie to remind you just how great of a friend they can actually be.
You can see Isle of Dogs at Parmer Cinema on Friday, September 28 at 6 and 9 p.m. and Saturday the 29th at 3, 6 and 9 p.m.