The sophomore film from actor-director Matt Ross (best known for his roles on TV’s Big Love and Silicon Valley), Captain Fantastic offers a delightfully offbeat and heartwarming tale about love, duty, and family.
Ben (Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises) and his wife are non-conformists who have chosen to raise their six kids deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, where they have been taught to live off the land, trained to have the endurance of professional athletes, and instilled with advanced knowledge of philosophy, literature, and geopolitics (they consider soda “poison water” and celebrate “Noam Chomsky Day” in place of Christmas). When tragedy strikes and the delicate ecosystem of their counterculture paradise is thrown into disarray, Ben and his clan are forced to take a trip across the country in their camper van, which is affectionately named “Steve.” Both heartbreak and hilarity ensue as the kids face some of their first social interactions with the wider world—and discover hot dogs. As his children see more of the world—and as his rebellious eldest son (George MacKay, Pride, Sunshine on Leith) becomes determined to march to the beat of his own drum—Ben begins to question whether shutting them off from it is the right decision.
Best known for his heavy-duty dramatic roles, Mortensen reveals a wonderful gift for comedy as the back-to-nature patriarch Ben and his interactions with the young actors playing his children yields some truly laugh-out-loud moments (particularly when he doles out hunting knives to the older kids as presents, and bestows a copy of The Joy of Sex upon his six-year-old son). Boasting a stellar supporting cast that includes veterans Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club), Kathryn Hahn, and the great Frank Langella (Robot & Frank), Captain Fantastic is an irresistible comedy-drama that asks what it is that truly makes a family.
“Mr. Mortensen gives the story unshakable grounding. He’s a star who doesn’t act like a star, yet everyone in his orbit feels his power. He and this strong, adventurous film deserve each other.” (Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal)
“Not only is it wonderful—it is heartfelt, comedic, gorgeous and just the right amount of sad.” (Brian Moylan, The Guardian)