He prepared them for everything except the outside world.
Deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest lives devoted dad Ben (Viggo Mortensen) and his six kids. Ben has dedicated his life to raising extraordinary children with a rigorous physical and intellectual education, and a primal connection to the natural world. When a tragedy strikes, the family is forced to leave. Suddenly the children must face the excitement and the perils of an unfamiliar outside world while Ben is compelled to reexamine his idea of what it means to be a parent.
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BY Adam-Fresco Flicks Writer
Viggo Mortensen stars as Ben, a back-to-basics dad raising his family way off grid, in a cabin deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. When his wife dies, the kooky family sets off to carry out her wishes and spare her the Christian funeral her parents plan.... More
It’s a road trip movie, focused on following the six fish-out-of-water backwoods kids, as they journey through a modern, materialist America, fraught with challenges for a single dad intent on educating his kids in socialist ideals, and survivalist skills.
With no need to hunt your own food in the age of shopping malls and fast food joints, the question posed is how best to raise children. Do we equip them for today’s realities, or dream big and fill them with ideals of utopia? Heavy ideas, handled with a light touch by writer/director Matt Ross, making for a witty, warm and winsome tale of the post-modern family, Little Miss Sunshine variety.
The narrative doesn’t quite hold together for the third act, so whilst it may not be fantastic, it sure is an entertaining journey, in the company of a compelling cast of kids, guided by a magnetic Mortensen. His Ben’s no superhero, but rather an all-too human father. You may not agree with his unconventional approach to parenting, education and grief counselling, but it’s hard not to warm to a guy whose love for his family shines so bright.Hide
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BY cinemusefilm superstar
Enlightened counter-culturalist Matt Ross (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife have raised six children in a utopian paradise buried deep in the Washington forests. His wife has been absent for months, hospitalised with mental illness, while Matt continues to home-school and train the kids in survival, combat and hunting. They are well-versed in philosophy, political theory and literature, are all musical and know how to live with nature. Matt sneers at religion so Christmas is ignored and they celebrate Noam Chomsky Day as rebellion against Christian society.
Matt is a firm, loving father and expects the children to live by his offbeat moral code, but they know nothing of how town-folk live or of the technological world outside. They expect the unfiltered truth about everything so when the eight year-old asks about sexual intercourse the factual reply would shock modern parents. None has ever seen a video game, they have no idea of what Coke tastes like and ogle in amazement at the size of people eating in McDonalds. When they head to the city for their mother's funeral the encounter with the 'real world' is both hilarious and confronting.
On some levels, this story is so fanciful that it could be regarded as simply an eccentric family comedy. When we hear the eight-year old analyse the American Bill of Rights, or the ten-year old quote from Karl Marx, or see all six kids engaged in elite athlete training including extreme rock-climbing in dangerous weather, it is clear we are not meant to take the whole story seriously. At another level however, this is one of the most refreshing, heart-warming and thought-provoking films in quite a while. It is especially endearing in depicting the many small moments where natural honesty confronts civilised artifice. Mortensen has a dominant presence, the acting and personalities of the six children are delightful, and the wilderness photography is beautiful. But believability is so over-stretched that what could have been a brilliant film settles instead for being a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable fable about conformity and difference.Hide
BY DanielK superstar
It’s not perfect – it takes a while to get completely into its stride, some of the scripting is a little on-the-nose, and one key child performance doesn’t quite measure up to the high standard set by rest of the uniformly excellent cast – but these are mere quibbles that are mostly eclipsed by absolutely brilliant work from Viggo Mortensen who effortlessly embodies the mind and soul of the character he was clearly born to play. Recommended.Hide
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