“Twenty years in the future” in “the city of Megasaki” in Japan, all the dogs have been exiled to “Trash Island” after outbreaks of “dog flu” and “snout fever.” But then 12-year-old Atari (the voice of Koyu Rankin) sneaks onto the island to try to find his dog, Spots. Gruff Chief (the voice of Bryan Cranston)—a proud stray who doesn’t “believe in masters”—and his pals (the voices of Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum), who long for and miss their masters, will help him. Wes Anderson’s latest is absolutely delightful and utterly original, so deliciously odd and managing to pull off the rare feat of being funny and sad at the same time. But this question must be grappled with: Has Anderson engaged in unseemly appropriation of Japanese culture? Aside from one human character who has a tinge of “white savior” about her, this looks and feels like an affectionate homage to Japanese pop culture, from anime to monster movies. Is it okay to enjoy such exoticism, as long as you don’t mistake it for true appreciation or understanding?
Director: Wes Anderson
Producer: Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson, Christopher Fisser, Henning Molfenter and Charlie Woebcken
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Liev Schreiber, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Koyu Rankin, Greta Gerwig, Tilda Swinton, F. Abraham, Kunichi Nomura, Frances McDormand, Yoko Ono, Akira Takayama, Akira Ito, Harvey Keitel, Ken Watanabe, Fisher Stevens, Mari Natsuki, Nijirô Murakami and Courtney B. Vance