Isle of Dogs Review
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Whether heís following the adventures of a beloved concierge, going on the run with a pair of young lovers, or battling farmers with a family of foxes, director Wes Anderson does it all with a style all his own. For his latest stop-motion release, Isle of Dogs, he travels to the Japan of the near future for a quirky canine rescue mission.

Isle of Dogs goes on a whimsical animated adventure with a band of dogs who, along with all dogs from the city of Megasaki, have been banished to Trash Island due to an outbreak of dog flu. When 12-year-old Atari Kobayashi (voiced by Koyu Rankin), orphaned ward of the corrupt mayor, crashes a tiny plane on the island, desperate to find his beloved pet, the dogs set out to help him. And as a dog-loving scientist works to find a cure for dog flu, the cat-loving mayor fights to maintain control.

  
 
Isle of Dogs is entirely Wes Anderson. All of the usual elements are here: the dysfunctional family, the eccentric style, the important mission, the deadpan humor. Itís a striking stop-motion animated film in that oh-so-folksy fashion thatís undeniably Anderson.

Like Fantastic Mr. Fox, it may look like a playful movie for kids, but itís not really a movie for kids. Itís a rather heavy tale of politics and corruption and prejudice presented by cute canines and a devoted kid with a susceptibility to head injuries. And, as you might expect, that makes it all just amusingly odd.

Still, the storytelling here simply isnít Andersonís best. The adventure isnít particularly harrowing. The humor isnít exactly hysterical. And it plays out in a way thatís both choppy and rambling, jumping back and forth through time and eventually keeping the adventure going just a little too long.

Meanwhile, plenty of essays have already been written about the uncomfortable cultural aspects of the filmóabout the stereotypes, the way in which much of the Japanese dialogue is spoken without translation, and the fact that the young character who stands up to the corrupt mayor is the white, English-speaking exchange student from Ohio. Of course, thereís often a fine line here, but it all feels a little awkward.

Despite the cultural awkwardness with the human characters, though, the dogs are still lovable and amusing. And their journey through the sometimes treacherous terrain of Trash Island gives the film its wit and whimsy.

Of course, for die-hard fans of Andersonís signature style, Isle of Dogs is a no-braineróanother fun-filled adventure in quirkiness (this time with a band of lovable canines). But it doesnít have the humor and easy-going charm of some of his earlier films.


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