It says something about the charm of Captain Fantastic that I was able to enjoy it despite either rolling my eyes or frowning in disapproval at most of the main character’s parenting choices. He's Ben (Viggo Mortensen), an off-the-grid survivalist who lives in the woods with his wife and their six children, ages 5-ish to 18-ish, who have made-up names like Kielyr and Vespyr. You'd assume they're Mormons from Idaho, but no: These are the anti-religion, anti-medicine, anti-capitalism types of rugged home-schoolers, not the religious kind. Anyway, when Mom dies, Ben must confront her parents (Frank Langella and Ann Dowd), who resent him for taking their daughter and grandchildren into the boonies, while also grappling with his children’s emerging sense of independence. Without judgment, writer-director Matt Ross shows the good and bad of Ben’s parenting style—there are areas where the kids are objectively healthier and smarter than, say, their brain-dead suburbanite cousins—while sympathetically depicting Ben’s regrets, fears and learning process. Mortensen gives a fully realized performance as a man with whom you may disagree, but whose heart is in the right place.
Director: Matt Ross
Producer: Lynette Howell Taylor, Jamie Patricof, Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson, Nimitt Mankad and Declan Baldwin
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell, Ann Dowd, Erin Moriarty, Missi Pyle, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Elijah Stevenson, Teddy Van Ee and Trin Miller