I love this movie because, well, Isle of Dogs! (Say it slowly.)

If you haven’t seen it, the basic plot is this. An outbreak of dog flu spreads through the city of Megasaki, Japan. Mayor issues an executive order dictating that all dogs be banished to a garbage-dump Trash Island. To show that this law applies to everyone, Kobayashi send his own dog, Spots, to the garbage dump as well.

The mayor’s son, a 12-year-old boy named Atari misses his bodyguard-dog-friend and makes his way in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop to Trash Island to find him. There Atari meets a motley crew of flea-bitten mongrel dogs who befriend him and offer to help. Of course, there are many obstacles and challenges along the Homerian odyssey to find Spots. How this odyssey ends will decide the destiny of the entire Prefecture.

As with many animated movies these days, the story line appeals to both children and adults but may be emotionally difficult for some younger children.

This is a Wes Anderson movie and as such bears the bounties and the flaws common to his movies. Mr. Anderson seems incapable of dealing with difficult subjects and often approaches them only to veer away or skirt them with a clumsy joke or a sight gag. Subjects like genocide and nuclear holocaust are not funny. They are not amusing. And they certainly aren’t trivial.

On the other hand, the dogs are astonishingly touching. They are painstakingly created in both a physical and spiritual sense. Many show wounds, matted fur, malnutrition, and other signs of abuse and neglect. They have been abandoned by their masters and although most people do not agree with the decree, only Atari moves to rescue his canine friend. Yet, most of the dogs yearn for their undeserving people. They pine for the occasional “good doggy” and a pat on the head.

The dialog and the monologs of the dogs are clever, their mannerisms and eccentric personalities are heart tugging. I’d wager that most of the volunteers at Angels for Sara or any of the local animal shelters for that matter, will find themselves thinking about taking one them home before remembering that they are not real.

Flaws and all, this is a wonderful stop-action animation and fitting entertainment for fans of Angels for Sara and for dog lovers everywhere.

~Rodney

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