Isle of Dogs – Wes Anderson’s Film Annoys Like a Puppy That Won’t Stop Barking

Wes Anderson has established himself over the years with some very clever films. The ambition in several of the films is matched by the execution, resulting in gems like “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Rushmore.”

Here, Anderson returns to the success he found with stop-action animation in “The Fantastic Mr. Fox.” That delightful production captured the whimsy of the film’s technique with a whimsically skewed perspective. Indeed, skewed angles are what Anderson generally brings to the screen in excellent fashion.

Anderson has mentioned that he was inspired in “Isle of Dogs” by the master Japanese animation genius Hayao Miyazaki. Films like “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro” remain jaw-dropping masterpieces, mostly because they slide so effortlessly from the sublimely beautiful to the devilishly terrifying. It was that latter aspect that kept my younger daughter from enjoying them.

But Anderson’s justifiable awe of Miyazaki does not guarantee a worthy homage.

In the case of “Isle of Dogs,” the dogs will be endearing to folks not particular enamored of canines. But that may be the best thing about the film, which of course is not saying much.

The voices of the dogs are a dream team of actors: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum , Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Frances McDormand, Courtney B. Vance, Fisher Stevens, Harvey Keitel,Bob Balaban, Greta Gerwig, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Frank Wood, Kunichi Nomura and Yoko Ono. The latter two bring some sense of authenticity to the film’s setting in Japan, but Anderson messes too often with the culture.

Kudos to Alexandre Desplat for his great soundtrack, he has worked with Anderson before.

In his prior films, Anderson created his universe. Here he essentially tramples on an existing culture, and the results are as messy as what an errant puppy leaves to the chagrin of a non-dog-loving bystander.


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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