Why ‘Isle of Dogs’ Is Wes Anderson’s Best Doggone Movie To Date
Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Welp, he’s done it again. Wes Anderson has somehow convinced us that there are still original movies left to be made. And while each of his films has its own personal charm, this one has a little bite of each to it, making Isle of Dogs his best movie to date. And still, it’s very relevant to today.
For those of us who live for the crass commentary of Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, or those of you who appreciate the grand landscapes of The Darjeeling Limited, The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Life Aquatic, there’s a bit of both to this instant canine classic. And then there’s those of you (me) who will watch Fantastic Mr. Fox on repeat until your (my) eyes fall out, not to mention the other classic Wes Anderson staples we know and love.
The futuristic tale of a doggy flu-infested Asian dystopian where pups are quarantined on a trash island (also known in real life as floating ocean gyres) embodies the camaraderie, wit, dry humor, unique setting, fantastic stop-motion and top-notch casting that Anderson has consistently shown us over the last two decades. If you were looking for a charming tale with a bit of originality to it, you may want to find a select showing of Isle of Dogs now. It’d be a doggone shame if you didn’t.
With Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson, Ed Norton, Bill Murray (Isle of Dogs being their eighth time together), Frances McDormand and Jeff Goldblum on board (just to name a few), how could you go wrong? Are you foaming at the mouth yet? Well, you damn well should.
The Stop-Motion of "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (Only Better)
While it's been nearly a decade, Wes Anderson's stop-motion animation of Fantastic Mr. Fox is still some of my favorite, and you can tell Isle of Dogs is taking it up a few notches. In addition, Bryan Cranston will replace George Clooney as lead animal with a comforting, soothing voice.
The Comforting Sounds of "Rushmore"
Speaking of comforting voices, the charming sounds of Bill Murray will grace the big screen, in addition to Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton.
The Close Camaraderie of "The Darjeeling Limited"
If there's one thing Wes Anderson has nailed, it's casting. Even in voice-over animation he can make the cast feel like one of his live-action movies. While The Darjeeling Limited offered up one of the best brotherly adventures, Isle of Dogs brings together discarded dogs living on a heap of trash with a mission to help a boy find his dog. Talk about canine camaraderie!
The Incredibly Dry Humor of "The Life Aquatic With Steve"
Dark humor is probably Anderson's chief way to convey the frustrating plights of his main characters, and you'll get plenty of it from these pooches. Maybe not as much as Bill Murray as captain of a ship being robbed blindfolded by pirates, but still pretty close.
The Imaginative Setting of "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
By far one of the most wonderfully conjured-up settings for a live-action movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel was Anderson's last movie, which was awarded great attention for its set design and costumes. Isle of Dogs takes place on a floating trash pile in the middle of the ocean, which I think most marine biologists would agree is a fantastic setting for any movie.
The Childlike Nostalgia of "Moonrise Kingdom"
While Moonrise Kingdom perfectly encapsulated young love amongst adolescents, Isle of Dogs brings home the classic tale of a boy looking for his lost dog. There will likely be dancing at some point as well, just as Fantastic Mr. Fox finished.
The Cleverly Constructed Dialogue of "The Royal Tenenbaums"
While The Tenenbaums were, by far, the most dysfunctional family we've met, they're also the proud owners of some of the most seasoned of lexicons. Isle of Dogs will likely be depressing at times (nobody likes to see dogs mistreated), but in the end, there isn't likely to be nearly as many suicide attempts as there are crass jokes. So that's good news.
A Bigger Budget Than "Bottle Rocket"
Anderson's first film was much enjoyed for such a small budget of $7 million with two Wilson brothers attached. Isle of Dogs has a smidgen more, albeit probably didn't require too much more considering the $40 million budget of Fantastic Mr. Fox. Don't be surprised if this is the best animated dog movie you've seen since Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. They really nailed the detail on that Golden Retriever!
Did We Mention Bill Would Be There?
Even though he was reportedly asleep at the premiere, he's there. You should find some solace in that alone. If that doesn't do it for you, there's also a little Frances McDormand and Jeff Goldblum to keep your ears warm.