You all know that I rarely blog. And in fact there have been a couple of worthwhile events from my life I’ve been wanting to blog about–my experience speaking to a group of men at a prison, for example, or my recent road-trip to the Yukon to promote my books. But last night I watched a movie that so drew my ire that said worthwhile topics fell completely by the wayside in favour of a good old-fashioned rant.
Let me begin by saying I was very much looking forward to watching Captain Fantastic for a few reasons–Viggo Mortensen, the obvious connection to my own life, and the fact that many people have reached out to me asking if I’d seen it and what I’d thought of it. In short, this is the story of a couple who take their children to live in the wilderness. When the mother commits suicide in the city, the family returns to civilization for her funeral, supposed harsh awakenings and life lessons. Suffice it to say that by the time I got to the halfway mark, the only reason I didn’t point the remote control at my screen to put myself out of my misery was because I’d decided I was going to blog about it. My main beef with this film was the endless string of cliche’d stereotypes that were so blatant I can only marvel at how such a Hollywoodized piece-of-crap story even saw the light of day. But it did, hitting the exact wrong chord; given the cheap shots at humour and attempts at provoking emotion, I assume it was written as a “Dramedy”, but it managed to be neither funny enough to be a comedy nor thought-provoking enough to be a drama.
So here goes–13 reasons why I hated Captain Fantastic. And yes, it contains spoilers.
- The opening scene. Six kids with muddied faces surround a deer, which the oldest son jumps on and kills with a hunting knife. As a result, Cap pronounces his son no longer a boy but a man. Of all the worn-out, borrowed and tired child-to-adult ceremonial cliches–give me a fucking break.
- The starting a fire scene. Cap makes regular trips to town and makes his phone calls from a cocktail-slinging bar, yet he uses flint instead of matches to start fires. As fucking if. My grandfather would have walked out of the movie right there–his top rules were to never leave home without a packet of waterproof matches, use the most efficient tool available for the task, and most of all to leave your stupidity at home.
- The climbing scene. By my calculation, Cap hasn’t worked in 15 years and doesn’t have enough money to buy groceries (hence the later stealing scene) and yet he and his six children are decked out in full climbing gear. We’re talking thousands of dollars here, but I guess I’m not supposed to notice that.
- The scene where Cap’s 7-year-old kid asks what sexual intercourse is, and Cap readily explains because he believes in telling his children the truth, not shielding or sugar-coating. Then, just to drive his point home, he gives the kid a copy of The Joy of Sex. That’s bad enough in itself, but allow me to enlighten you–if these kids really were living in a one-room cabin with their parents for fifteen years, that child would have perfect first-hand knowledge of what sexual intercourse is. Trust me.
- The scene where they are driving to the city and Cap encourages his kids to “look for game”. The kids then scout out a field of sheep and contemplate taking one down for dinner. They are on a road-trip; just where the hell does he think he’s going to cook and store all that meat?
- When they go to the grocery store, steal a bunch of food, and then celebrate their mother with a lifted chocolate cake topped with sprinkles and whipped cream. Gag me with a frigging dessert spoon–as if a man who won’t let his kids eat a meal in a diner would let them anywhere near such a sugar, food-coloring and preservative-laden work of the devil.
- When the kids have dinner with the family from town and ask how the hosts killed the roast chicken on the table. Get real–just a few scenes before they were all cruising the grocery store aisles.
- The stereotype video-game-obsessed, publicly educated (read:dumb) city kids, conveniently backdropped against Cap’s knowledge-spewing offspring. Assumably, this point is made to inform us that homeschooling is far superior to a formal education. Which leads me another major ass-pick: This dude took his kids off the grid because he believes that’s where they should stay, preserved from the judgments and expectations of society. He is horrified when his oldest son tells him he wants to go to university. And yet you want me to believe he spends hours educating his kids on the finer points of left-wing politics and discoursing on the Bill of Rights? Don’t even bother.
- The scene where Cap hangs out in an RV camp nude, as if he’s ignorant of both indecent exposure laws and basic fucking common sense. Nobody loved nudity more than my grandfather, and he never would have pulled such an asinine stunt.
- The fact that this movie assumes that children are puppets of their parents with no ability to adapt. As someone who struggled really fucking hard to break away from her family’s values and was often made to personify adaptibility, this struck a particularly pissy note with me. With the exception of one rebellious child, the kids in this sorry-assed story accept their father’s teachings without question and go to great lengths to prove that they’re hopeless fish out of water. They take their sleeping bags outside because they don’t want to sleep in their aunt’s house. The oldest boy asks a girl to marry him after they share one kiss. And worst of all, they go around spewing such tired old hippie standbys as “Stick it to the government, stick it to the man”. I literally wanted to cry for the patheticness of it all, even though that isn’t even a word.
- The cliche’d hippie vs. upper-class privileged battle. Cap’s wife was–you guessed it–a lawyer before he swept her off the grid, much to her status-quo upholding parent’s horror. How about some BELIEVABLE people, people?? Oh, right, my bad…because in Hollywood, if you’re not extreme you may as well not exist.
- The scene where Cap leaves his kids behind….OH MY GOD, I’ve said it too many times here but I’ll say it again–AS IF!! Here we are meant to believe that a man who has bucked the system and literally dedicated his entire existence to doing what he thinks is the right thing for his children would leave them behind in the city without a fight because his in-laws don’t agree with his lifestyle? OH MY GOD. The only thing worse than this occurs about two minutes later in the film, when all the kids pop up from a hiding spot under the bus’s floor to surprise him. I can’t even. I just fucking can’t.
- The title, which at no point in the film is explained to the viewer. I then have to assume it was based on the 1960’s British character who, according to Wikipedia, was a “bowler-hatted, plastic-mac wearing and umbrella carrying superhero“. Maybe the connection is obvious to some of you out there who are familiar with this character, but to me it is not. No–I much prefer the title my husband suggested: Bullshit Cliches About Living Off The Grid.
There you have it.