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Parent reviews for Captain Fantastic

Common Sense says

Original, moving drama has some disturbing moments.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews
Parent of a 11 year old Written byStephen H. August 24, 2016

Captain Fantastic IS fantastic!

We took our daughter (just shy of 12) to this and we all came away knowing we had experienced something amazing. The characters are very well developed and the essential premise that children do not need to be talked down to or kept from the realities of life is powerful, and in general to be admired. Yes, there are exaggerations in characters, but they serve the story terrifically. There is plenty of off color language that is used conversationally, so if that is an issue in your family be warned. Be prepared to laugh out loud and to cry in empathy.

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Positive Messages
Positive role models
Parent of a 13 year old Written byabruns October 29, 2016

Courageous and invigorating

This film has so many sublime moments, and gives strength to any independent-minded, freethinking parent raising children to follow their own path and think for themselves. What a cast, what a storyline, what great music and vision, all with heart and compassion at their center. I can't wait to watch it again, this time with our 13-year-old daughter.

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Adult Written byjosephine s. October 17, 2016

outstanding and inspiring film for the whole family with older kids

Although the R rating scared me away over the summer when it was playing at our local movie theater, we looked into it and saw that the rating was only for some curse words and one shot of Viggo undressed. We watched it as a family yesterday and wow what an amazing film! Inspiring ideas about questioning our American cultural norms and assumptions. Such a loving and complex film, we hope that more families will watch it. Our boys are 8 and 11 and go to a nature camp in the summer, so we have exposure to and support much of the work that the father is doing with his children in the country.

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Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written byJodi R. August 10, 2016

Thought-provoking film; will create valuable conversations

I loved this film and intend to share it with my boys (ages 9 & 11) as soon as it is available for watching at home. I want to do it this way so we can pause the film and discuss it for as long as need be, and so my kids can turn to me and ask questions whenever they may need to in order to really get the film. I love how it offers an alternative to mainstream views of America. I will be telling my children the overall plot first in order to prepare them for what's to come, as the movie is very intense at times. And I don't think the father always makes the best choices for his family - another topic for rich conversation, making it more like life - the film is rich with opportunities to discuss forgiveness, community, and family-based decisions. As another reviewer said: if you are the kind of parent that speaks with your children frankly and isn't afraid to show them alternative viewpoints on American life, then this film is an incredible journey that is well worth taking together. Regarding the swearing, it's all conversational and feels realistic. There is some drinking, but I like the opportunity it presents for me to point out the my kids about taking in visual clues and picking the right time for a real talk. "See, when someone has had 1/2 a bottle of wine, then STOP - strike up your conversation with them another time. It's highly likely that you won't like the outcome if you talk to them now." Regarding violence, especially the killing of the deer in the beginning, it's reminiscent of native american hunting and is a realistic reminder of where our meat comes from. Yet another opportunity to talk to the kids about important topics! What a rich, fantastic film!

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Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 August 6, 2016

Absolutely unique indie is one of 2016's best

Even though I would love this to be the frontrunner for this year's upcoming Oscars, "Captain Fantastic" is probably best suited for the Best Original Screenplay slot, where unique little indies like this are placed (past winners have been "Midnight in Paris, " "Her," "Birdman"). A man living his life off the grid with his six children, raising them to be hyper-intelligent and free of today's society's burdens is a perfect concept for a film. Viggo Mortensen holds the film together as Ben, whose wife has died, and his trek there as he brings all of his children to her funeral. As with the best cases, the funeral really isn't the centerpiece of the movie, it's just the motivation for Ben to get the plot started. Although I would've loved to see more character development with the girls (those red-haired sisters were fascinating to watch) you really get insight into who these children are. What would it be like to be raised in these extraordinary circumstances? Would you love your father for it, or resent him? It's also a scathing look at current American society, and it makes you feel stupid without actually making you feel stupid. You want to BETTER yourself by the end of this film just to be halfway on the level of this family of geniuses. Eccentric family comedies are not in short supply, but this take on it is very rare indeed. "Captain Fantastic" is far from "interesting," and Ben would tell me to give a much better analysis. The movie is a pounding fist of a reminder to live life to the fullest, even when you know there will be obstacles along the way.

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Language
Parent of a 11 year old Written bymikipod July 23, 2016

for advanced kids

this movie opens up a fascinating discussion about education and upbringing that the child can take part in and voice their opinion. it is beautiful and touching, and very intense at times. if your child already watched hunger games and other dystopian common movies, they are ready for this. I don't mind language; here profanity is used the way actual people use it. if you mind it, you will not enjoy this movie.

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Positive role models
Language
Adult Written byFrances72 September 29, 2018

A fantastic and thought provoking film

I absolutely loved this film! After watching it first with my husband we watched it again with our almost 11 year old daughter. All of us loved this film. The cafe scene where the children are getting excited about the menu, then Ben, totally freaking out at all the processed foods listed, shuts the menu, explains that they're leaving because there's no REAL food available. THATS ME and Nina loved to see that its not just us :) And while the killing of the animal is heavy, its life. Today we have so much disconnection in regards to real food. Awesome film.

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Positive Messages
Positive role models
Adult Written byNils J. August 31, 2018

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Positive role models
Parent of a 9 and 12 year old Written byYlfa P. November 5, 2017

Captain Fantastic says kids deserve honesty, respect, and unconditional love

My kids and I loved this movie. We laughed and cried. But best of all, it sparked conversations: about how people love with or without conditions, about what real education is, and about how kids are almost always underestimated. The R rating it received also proves that our culture thinks that graphic violence and murder is less damaging (PG-13) to children than a peaceful naked man, simply standing there drinking his morning coffee. As the character himself says in the scene, "it's just a penis."

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Adult Written byjohnu65 September 19, 2017

Great discussion piece

I loved this movie because it served as a great discussion piece for myself and my two boys (14 and 16). I read an online review that labeled it as an "anti-Christian Christian" movie and I think this label sums it up quite nicely. On one level the movie looks like it is scorning Christianity, and on another level it is very aligned with the Christian value of not attaching to the social norms and materialism that the world offers. But then it also doesn't let itself get away with it's own non-attachment idealism. In the end, what starts as very self-righteous is humbled. I wish they made more movies like this. There are a couple of gory scenes and some non-sexual nudity.
Adult Written byBeth D. July 24, 2017

perfect for mature tweens/ teens and adults!

A thought provoking film depicting a family adopting an unconventional lifestyle which rejects all the trappings of western consumerism and ways of life. The film does have some mature content, including tons of colorful expletives; however, I am generally really conservative about what I let my kids see and this one was just on the cusp for my 13 year old. There's no violence, which is usually my primary concern. I felt the value outweighed the moments of language and heavy topics. Has a ton of cool and interesting ideas to sort through later if discussion ensues about blindly following the masses without thinking critically about how we will choose to live. Its funny, disturbing, sad, and inspiring. Highly recommend
Parent Written byMarty M April 1, 2017

This film is for parents, but might appeal to some kids. It's not perfect but I'd highly recommend it.

While some kids may enjoy the film - I feel like it's aimed at parents (The writer/director says he had a child and thought "What kind of parent do I want to be?"). Unless your children are the ones from this film (and kudos if they are!) then half the dialogue will go over their heads (I struggled and I'm 37yo and have studied philosophy). The experience of watching this film is amazing just for the fact that you can watch it. People rarely talk about this stuff. It's great to have a high profile star getting these topics front and centre - consumerism; poor school systems, home-schooling, living off-grid, accepting/rejecting "the norm" and how will the choices you make as a parent impact your child when the enter "the real world"? The film opens with a young man killing a deer for food - a lot of fuss has been made about this - but basically it sets the tone for the film: no holds barred. It's not all full on of course, there are some laugh out loud funny moments and some very sweet heartfelt parts as well. Viggo does a great job portraying "Captain Fantastic" - Ben, a father raising his children off-grid in the forest, teaching them to be self-sufficient, learning from books, speaking 6 languages. He gives a nuanced performance - Ben is neither saint nor cult leader - a little from column A, little from column B. The film does not shy away from his hypocrisies - he is not always right and he realises that. The kids are all great in their own separate ways, with some stand out moments, though they are definitely over-shadowed by the adult cast. Steve Zahn and Kathryn Hahn are great as Ben's in-laws, providing the "real world" family juxtaposition. And Frank Langella and Ann Dowd are fantastic grandparents, playing devil's advocate while realistically representing what the majority of people are probably thinking! The film is not subtle, and sometimes that feels a bit laboured - but then again, how many films delve into this kind of material? There's little to compare it to! For a great summary from a 16 year old who was homeschooled and realtes to the characters read: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/users/tamago101 The film did remind me of "Into the Wild" - where the main characters choices were not celebrated but just presented. The film wasn't a recipe for what to do - rather presented as very interesting concepts to consider (that film was based on several true stories to boot!) My biggest gripe - the stupid title! Everyone assumes it's the latest B-Grade Marvel Comic. To me it doesn't reflect the content of the film, it doesn't seem ironic, and ultimately since it's an ensemble piece with many great characters - it does them a disservice to just focus on dad.

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Positive Messages
Language
Parent of a 8, 10, and 12 year old Written byTete33 February 13, 2017

Appropriate when viewed with parents

Challenges themes of individuality, education, religion. Should only be watched w/ a parent and then discussed at length. Some messages in conflict w/ values including stealing and foul language (common).

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Adult Written byChristopher P. December 31, 2016

Do not watch with kids

If you are even semi religious, don't watch this movie. I am not a devout Christian, but you will be offended. Also, the very first scene is graphic and disturbing. I don't think the movie has good role models at all. They do things as a family that are careless and wreckless. There is a strong anti religious and anti family undertoned message. I'm shocked any parent would think this movie is OK. If you want to be able to look your kids in the eyes afterwards, do not watch this movie as a family.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Language
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Parent of a 11, 13, and 15 year old Written byClara F. November 30, 2016

Hope for Parents

I watched this film with my husband and 15 year old son. I will watch it next week with my 3 daughters who are 13 & 11. There are definitely moments in this movie that made me squirm in my chair as a parent however not for the same reasons some movies do. Captain Fantastic challenged me as a parent to reflect on the ways that I allow my parenting to be shaped by popular culture around me - even though elements of this culture do not reflect the values I want to bestow on my children. The father, Ben, is definitely out there - which makes him both seem crazy at times and yet inspiration-ally courageous. I was touched by his desire to give his children the space to think for them selves and to ask good questions. He was also not afraid to give them direction and explain why. In an age of technological bombardment, I found the focus on living on the land and being in relationship with nature refreshing. The movie is well made, stays away from "black & white" thinking and leaves you feeling invested in the characters. It is a great platform for discussion with your kids who are old enough to watch it.

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Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written bycatalpatree August 6, 2016

Captain Fantastic

First movie in a LONG time that's made me sit on the edge of my seat with my mouth agape. In a good way. As with any movie, it depends what your comfort level is with themes and scenes. If you are honest with your kids and treat them as intelligent human beings, if you don't dumb down explanations of things (sex, illness, philosophy, death, etc.), and if your kids feel comfortable asking you questions, then this movie should pose no problems. The messages are valid and thought-provoking and overall this is a very entertaining film. Super acting by everyone. Several scenes involved things my kids don't normally see: male frontal nudity (not sexual); a child kills a deer using a knife and it's very gory; the eldest son is introduced to the power of hormones in an RV park (just kissing but passionate). Also a fair amount of swearing. On the surface these things may seem off-putting but it is all artfully and thoughtfully done. My husband and I saw this movie together last week and just took the kids to see it today. It's that good. Kids liked it and we had good conversation on the way home. At the very least, maybe they'll put up less resistance when we ask them to turn off their electronic devices later! (The dad's hideous red polyester suit is the most offensive part of this film. Ha ha.)

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Parent Written byLynAstrid July 29, 2016

Amazing, emotional, thought-provoking

My only caveats on the age recommendation depend on your comfort with certain things. My almost-12-year-old gets anxious, so we let her know early on about death and injury that are important to the story. Otherwise, if you are OK with cursing and brief (non-sexual) nudity, this is a must-see.