“Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his lost dog.”

Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman
Staring: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Ken Wantanabe
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: April 13, 2018

There are very few directors who can go into a studio office and pitch an animated/puppet styled odyssey about a young boy going to a remote island which is inhabited by dogs who are outlawed by a governmental force. There are very few, but Wes Anderson is one of them.

Isle Of Dogs (2018) is one of the most unique stories if you look at it just in terms of the words combined together. There is an outbreak of dog flu in a city based in Japan. The leader of this metropolis has banned dogs to Trash Island. Among the dogs banished is the guard dog, and best friend, of a politically important child by the name of Atari (Koyu Rankin). Following a plane crash on the island of misfit dogs, various former furry pets agree to help Atari find his pup. There are scuffles with other dogs who travel the land, but more importantly there are various government entities who are halting our protagonists to make sure they truth doesn’t get out. The dog flu was made by agents inside the government, and the bravery Atari and his new friends is part of a catalyst that can both take down the most elevated men in Megasaki and free all the dogs from Trash Island.

The best thing about isle Of Dogs is not its voice acting. Everyone is good, and the cast boasts plenty of voices that people will recognize. The best thing about Isle Of Dogs is its dialogue. It is the screenplay by Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman. The desolate humor right from the jump about deciding whether or not to fight over trash scraps had my interested, and the reoccurring jokes about voting and having an owner as a pet had my grinning throughout.

Part of this genius comes comes the fact that they are all speaking their own language. Dogs can talk to dogs (unless technically linked), the English speaking characters speak English and the Japanese speak their native language as well. They also put this fact right out there at the jump of the movie, bracing you for it. In a world of puppet looking dogs and unique languages, the dialogue is incredibly human and quick-witted. It is just like any other Wes Anderson movie.

The conversations are great, but the plot is not stellar. Maybe it is not the plot. Maybe it is the pacing. Isle Of Dogs ends very quickly. Things do get wrapped in a bow, but the final knot comes abruptly. I would have not lengthened the movie anymore, but I would have maybe chipped off five minutes in the middle to add onto the final act.

One random thought before I wrap up this quick one. Wes Anderson only has banger casts. Where does he rank in terms of directors just calling in a favor or having people want to work with him? What makes him so enjoyable to work with? Like, did you know that Anjelica Huston is in Isle Of The Dogs? I had no idea. I didn’t know. I played moviestomovies.com the other day and learned it.

Isle Of Dogs was nominated for two Oscars at the 2019 Academy Awards: Best Original Score and Best Animated Feature Film. It lost out to Black Panther (2018) in Original Score and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2019) in Best Animated Feature.

Isle Of Dogs is streaming on HBO Max.

STANKO RATING: B (3.5/5 Stars)

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