• by Wes Singleton

Review: Captain Fantastic, B

Rated R, 118 minutes

The unconventional but affecting new drama "Captain Fantastic" is a hippie, tree-hugging version of "The Brady Bunch" without Jan spouting "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" Directed and written by actor and director Matt Ross of "Silicon Valley" and "American Horror Story," it touches on the notions of family and connections with the outside world. Deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father (Viggo Mortensen) devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education off-grid is forced to leave his paradise and enter the real world, beginning a journey that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent. The well-acted, touching dramedy "Captain Fantastic" has some weird and dark moments, an unusual adventure for sure, but one that's worthy of your time. Part road trip, part fish-out-of-water existence and part dark family drama, it starts out well, though it loses its footing somewhat late in the middle act as it goes in several different directions, but it comes together nicely in the end. "Lord of the Rings" and "Eastern Promises" Mortensen is an inspired casting choice here, grounding the film well as the father who becomes an unwitting single parent and whose choices - both good and bad - have deeply affected the family. Ross' screenplay could've easily made all six kids precocious camera muggers, but instead they're all incredibly smart, honest and very healthy children - with nice turns from all the young actors: George McKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Cooks and Charlie Shotwell. Recent Tony winner and Oscar-nominee Frank Langella is also memorable as a bitter but concerned grandfather. Handsomely filmed and with a sturdy supporting player, Steve the bus, "Captain Fantastic" goes on a tad too long and has a too romanticized look at living off-the-grid, but the ending, which strikes a compromise between tree-hugging individualism and connecting with society, is satisfying. You'll also want to see if you can find the wistful, folksy version of Guns-N-Roses' '80s hit "Sweet Child 'O Mine" sung by the family at the end as they celebrate the life of their mother. Worth a look.

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