Captain Fantastic

Film, Drama
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Captain Fantastic

Living off the grid has its pros and cons in a domestic drama touched by a wayward spirit

Viggo Mortensen will always be our Aragorn, charging the Black Gate and stirring Middle-earth spirits: ‘This day, we fight!’ But there has always been a soulful, hippyish side to the actor (in real life, too) and ‘Captain Fantastic’, an unusual anti-domestic drama, captures something brainy and bullheaded about him that feels true.

He plays Ben, an off-the-grid survivalist and intellectual blessed with six kids whom he’s raising in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. We get to know the children like the animals on Noah’s ark: a pair of surly almost-men, a pair of beautifully confident teenage girls; a pair of blond tykes. All of them are proficient in hunting, knives and high-level literature, but their Noam Chomsky-adoring mother has just committed suicide, and Ben dreads the inevitable confrontation with society and its expectations.

The movie works best in the clan’s private world (even if rock climbing in the rain seems like poor parenting). But then it deflates: Frank Langella, normally a welcome presence, is clownish as a mean grandfather, and the plot wraps up far too abruptly.

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Release date: Tuesday September 6 2016
Duration: 118 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Matt Ross
Screenwriter: Matt Ross
Cast: Viggo Mortensen
Frank Langella
Kathryn Hahn
Steve Zahn

Average User Rating

4.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
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Weird, powerful, thought provoking and certainly different, this is indeed an excellent film about living way off grid. At times the story-line is extreme and at other times cliched - ooh look, the city kids are all on computer games. But it's an interesting drama, punctuated with moments of real, heart pulling emotion and sincerity about the state of the modern world. 

Amazing cinematography and acting and entirely beautifully shot, like an advertisement for an outdoor clothing brand! Be warned the opening scene, cover your eyes if your squeamish like me!


Wow wow wow! I had no idea what I was about to watch so had no expectations. It is a brilliant story of a Dad and his family who are forced by circumstances to reintegrate into society after choosing to live a simple unconventional, survivalist way for a decade.

I Laughed, I cried (not just a subtle tear, I wept so hard the person next to me had to ask if I was ok, to which I replied "its soo beautiful"). 

It a movie about wanting to do what's best for your family in your own way and finding a balance to life. It is truly one of my all-time best films. Not easy to watch but it needs to be watched.  

I didn't do my homework & assumed this was a popcorn super hero flick. How wrong I was!! Although the opening scenes utterly horrified me & nearly caused a swift exit once I got over the shock I loved this film. It's quirky, clever, heart wrenching & ultimately uplifting. Exploring themes of family & mental health it tackles difficult issues with humour & sensitivity. Kudos to the entire cast. A brilliant & original film just see it!

This is a truly awful film.Contrived sentiment,artificial scenes in order to get a political point across..The script is clunky and this leads to some poor performances from the actors.It tries to be a dark version of the Waltons or Little house on the prairie.The left wing family sneer at everything looking down at their noses at others who chose to have different life styles to them.Yet the sanctimoniousness does not prevent them from stealing,breaking the law and lying.The whole film is just one pathetic ruse.Very young people might be taken in but the rest of us might regard it as naff 


A unique and thought-provoking film whose first half captures the romantic ideals of living off the grid, secluded from capitalist society, with seemingly perfectly formed children who are incredibly intelligent whilst also having the physical endurance of elite athletes. It honestly made me feel quite inadequate about my own life!

The second half of the film sheds a different light on this idyllic lifestyle when they are forced to re-enter the "real world" and a series of events transforms a previously confident and liberal father into a nervous single parent spiralling out of control.

Whilst the film is not an easy watch (I shed more than a few tears), I really appreciated being shown the two sides of the argument and not having the directors opinion on what was right or wrong forced on me. It is a very memorable film, well shot and, in my opinion, well-written. My only slight criticism was that some of the characters were fairly weak and one-dimensional.


I really liked this film, it's fun and inspiring and is likely to make you think about society and reflect your own childhood. While on paper the storyline is quite far fetched it's incredibly well acted and produced to the point that it feels real enough for the most part, aside for the odd blip though that comes late enough to be forgivable. On that count it's a joy to watch as everything gels so well together, and the landscapes, scenery and film in general are beautifully shot.


I absolutely loved this film and even shared a tear or two (or more).

Without spoiling the movie I will give you a few key words that describe this film for me:

Outstanding, powerful, heartbreaking and beautiful


Great movie raising some highly interesting questions about our current way of life.

Viggo Mortensen's character tries to raise his 6 kids in a very hippie style, isolated in a forest. 

Everything seems to work out well until they are all forced to meet the "real world".
I thought this hippie style was quite seducing but can you really live cut from the rest of the world forever?
Aside from a great performance from the actors, especially from the children (Shree Crooks plays amazingly the sweetest/craziest/cleverest kid ever!!), this movie really gave me food for thought and I strongly recommend it!


Enjoyable thought provoking piece. Viggo Mortensen gives another excellent performance. Just a little to simple for my taste. The film is very much about rejecting conventional values. It just doesn't provide convincing alternatives.  


Great movie for anyone over the age of 12. The storyline is original and captivates you from the start. It centers around a dad bringing up his children in an alternative way against the views of everyone else. It gets pretty emotional but ends on such a beautiful serene high. I left the cinema feeling so joyful but questioning what society has enforced as a 'Normal' way of living and what it would be like to break those norms.

Just home from the Time Out Card preview screening. This film really worked for me. Highly unlikely storyline, but man does it champion some great causes - and raises lots of interesting questions about social and family norms . Its beautifully shot. I want to go drive those roads in the Rockies . I may just ask for my ashes to be disposed in the same way and hope my children will pay the same disrespect for the ridiculous mainstream Christian traditions so beloved of god-fearing America. Great stuff