Captain Fantastic Lives Up to Its Name

There are not many movies where the characters celebrate Noam Chomsky day instead of Christmas, or where the father orchestrates a “Free the Food” assault on a local grocery store.

But then there aren’t many movies like Captain Fantastic.

When I first heard about the movie, I thought it was another superhero movie, along the lines of Batman or Iron Man. Well my wife, son, and I had the chance to see this wonderful movie today, and while it’s nothing like Batman, there’s certainly a superhero.

Here’s a brief description from Rotten Tomatoes:

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), his wife Leslie and their six children live deep in the wilderness of Washington state. Isolated from society, Ben and Leslie devote their existence to raising their kids — educating them to think critically, training them to be physically fit and athletic, guiding them in the wild without technology and demonstrating the beauty of co-existing with nature. When Leslie dies suddenly, Ben must take his sheltered offspring into the outside world for the first time.

and here’s the trailer:

The kids are incredibly fit, well-versed in a variety of subjects, can speak multiple languages (including Esperanto), and play multiple musical instruments.

There’s a memorable scene where one of Ben and Leslie’s younger kids shows off her knowledge of the Bill of Rights compared to the knowledge that a couple of older, typical teenagers have of the Bill of Rights.

There’s another scene where one of the daughters is asked by Ben what she thinks of the book she is reading (Lolita), and she replies, “interesting”. Apparently such a response is unacceptable in this family, and after some thought she offers a critical analysis of the book and its characters.

One of my favorite scenes is where the family is sitting around a campfire and just breaks into an impromptu musical performance, with some of the kids joining in by dancing. I found it to be a heartwarming glimpse into the special life this family led.

The family is on a mission (I won’t reveal what that mission is), and it is during this mission we see that while they may be quite book smart, they may not be so well-versed in the ways of the world.

In the end, I found the movie to be a clarion call to think for yourself, to live more in harmony with nature, and above all, a celebration of family.

Any movie that can do all that is a winner in my book.

Congratulations to writer/director Matt Ross on, dare I say, a fantastic job.

By the way, if you want to celebrate Noam Chomsky Day, his birthday is December 7…

Published by

Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

4 thoughts on “Captain Fantastic Lives Up to Its Name”

  1. Sounds … “interesting.” 🙂

    I hadn’t heard of this movie (we don’t go to movies much, and we don’t have TV, so I’m usually clueless about what’s out there).

    Thanks for the recommendation. I may have to shell out a few bucks to go see it.


  2. My wife and I saw the movie over the weekend, and we enjoyed it very much. I think your review is pretty much spot on. The script is a bit problematic. For example, there are about three points at which it could have ended. There are a few inconsistencies in the character of Ben (without elaborating, he treat thievery a bit too cavalierly). But Viggo Mortensen is wonderful, as worthy of an Oscar nod as he was for Eastern Promises a few years ago. As an alternative to the usual summer movie fare, this is well worth the investment of your time and money,



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