This is sure the Year of the Dog movies, and the most recent is Isle of Dogs, is from the creative mind of Wes Anderson. The puppet animation is incredible, details like little fleas hopping around the disheveled dogs. To be sure this isn’t particularly a movie for very young children, and definitely a movie for high schoolers and adults.
So, what is a boy without his dog?
An epidemic dog flu (they don’t quite get the dog flu facts right in this movie; for starters, people can’t get dog flu) forces the corrupt and dictatorial Mayor of a fictional city of Megasaki in Japan to ban all dogs to a landfill abandoned island. The apparent concern is that people will get the dog flu.
Atari is the 12-year boy star of the movie, who flies to the Isle of Dogs to search for his dog, Spots.
Now this isn’t exactly Timmy searching for Lassie. Along the way, a pack of dogs befriends the boy and joins him on his quest that leads to a canine penal colony, a wasteland where mysteriously sick dogs fight over morsels from rancid and maggoty garbage. It’s a horror show — and an apt metaphor for the real world — with an abandoned nuclear power plant, you see oil towers no longer in use and a dilapidated amusement park.
Eventually, an immigrant high school student and Atari figure out there is a cure for dog flu and announce it the citizenry. At which point, the first response from the Mayor to ask that the student, who is from Ohio, return to her country of origin, one of several political references in the metaphor rich film.
The artistry is complex and film buffs will appreciate that alone.
It’s not the heart tugging film that another animated movie “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” is or the sweet (in a good way) story of the latest Benji reboot (on Netflix), still you can’t help but be touched by the relationship of a boy and the dog. This is a deeper movie with more levels that the other aforementioned canine flicks. There aren’t any political references or metaphors in the Benji movie, and “St. Stubby: An American Hero” is based on a true story. This anything but true or real, but it’s great entertainment and artistry.