It’s hard to decide which elements of Isle of Dogs are the definitive “perfect fit” for Wes Anderson. Obviously Fantastic Mr. Fox has already proven that stop-motion and anthropomorphic animal antics gel with his unique style, and Dogs adds dystopian settings and conspiracy thrillers to the laundry list of reliable Andersonian motifs.
Isle of Dogs also lines up a host of new performers who can handle his whip-fast patter – as alpha-dog Chief and plucky foreign exchange student Tracy Walker, Bryan Cranston and Greta Gerwig deliver mirthful and emotive vocal performances with aplomb. Hopefully they will join the likes of Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham and Tilda Swinton on the Anderson acolyte roster, who along with others turn up and offer typically hilarious contributions.
What is most impressive is that, despite a range of recognisable voices, these characters first and foremost feel like dogs. Sure, they gossip incessantly and believe more wholeheartedly in responsible democracy than the average hound, but there is a level of detail to their movements and even their thought patterns that is inherently canine, setting Isle of Dogs apart from your typical animated fluffy fare.
If that sounds pretentious – it’s a Wes Anderson movie, what did you expect? Dog lovers will fall head-over-heels for Anderson’s story devoted to man’s best friend, but everyone will enjoy the zany political thriller that sits alongside the island-bound escapades of Chief and company. From rigged elections, political kidnapping and obsessive reporters, Anderson runs an impressively gripping thriller through the middle of this shaggy dog story, swapping between tones on a dime.
If a man’s best friend is his dog, animation should look to Anderson as its most trusty companion. A feast for the eyes and the soul in equal measure, Isle of Dogs is certain to elicit new joys on each repeated viewing.
CAST: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber
DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
WRITERS: Wes Anderson (story & screenplay by), Roman Coppola, Kunichi Nomura, Jason Schwartzman (story by)
SYNOPSIS: Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his dog.