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Isle of Dogs | 2018 | PG-13 | - 1.5.2

Stop-motion animation feature set in future Japan, where a corrupt mayor has banished all of his city's dogs to a bleak island. When a 12-year-old boy's dog is the first to be exiled, he undertakes a mission to rescue his loyal companion. With the voices of Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Kunichi Nomura, Akira Takayama, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Akira Ito, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono, Tilda Swinton, Liev Schreiber, Fisher Stevens and Courtney B. Vance. Directed by Wes Anderson. There are many lines of dialogue spoken in Japanese without subtitles and there are Japanese symbols shown, usually accompanied by an English translation. [1:41]

SEX/NUDITY 1 - A male and a female dog talk and seem to be flirting; the female tells the male, "I wouldn't bring puppies into this world." A female dog poses on top of a pile of garbage and male dogs admire her from a distance. A teen girl says that she has a crush on a boy. A boy refers to a teen girl as being an attractive cub reporter. A female dog licks a flower off a male dog's snout.
 A dog says, "I'm going to be a father" and we later see several puppies suckling from their mother. A dog talks about a female dog having "mated" with another dog. A male dog says about female dogs, "The ones I like are never in heat."
 A man is shown in a tub and we see his bare shoulders and upper chest; he stands and faces away from the audience revealing his bare back and buttocks (with a large tattoo). Three animated teen boys are shown shirtless while playing drums (we see chests, abdomens and backs). Two sumo wrestlers are shown in traditional wrestling garb that reveals bare chests, abdomens, backs and buttocks. A boy is shown wearing his briefs (his chest and abdomen are visible).

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VIOLENCE/GORE 5 - We are told that wasabi poison was placed in some food that a man ate as we see a man looking at one last piece of the food on his plate (we see the man dead with his eyes wide open). We see an animated re-enactment of a boy with a sword fighting a man and cutting off his head (we see the head separate and blood spills).
 Two packs of dogs fight over a package of garbage food (we see the garbage including squirming maggots) with fur and tufts of dust thrown all around and one dog is shown with a bloody ear after another dog apparently bit a piece of it off (we see the piece of ear with blood on it on the ground as the dog walks away and rats pick it up to eat it). A dog fights a robot dog and we see dust and fur flying around them: the dog is left with part of his ear bitten off, bloody eyes and a swollen cheek and eye. A play is performed and re-enacts a boy beheading a man using a sword (the blood is flowing fabric). We see drones and dog catchers preparing a large amount of poison and readying to deploy to an island; they are dispatched and we see poison gas flowing into the masks of the dog catchers and the robots imploding. We see a flashback to a volcanic eruption that wiped out many people and they are depicted as skeletons.
 Many people and dogs fight on a stage and we see a boy collapse with injuries (a piece of metal is stuck in his head with a little blood), a dog collapses (we see an injured eye and leg), and a robot dog collapses.
 A young boy flies a plane over a trash island and it crashes to the ground; the boy gets out of the plane and we see him collapse (he has a piece of the prop stuck in his helmet that he later pulls it out causing a blood spurt, he also has a black eye and he later walks with a limp). A young boy flies a plane, and then tries to land and crashes into a pile of garbage and he is thrown out of the plane (no injuries are evident). Four dogs in an open carrier that moves along a cable enter a crushing, incinerating machine and pass through the mechanisms unharmed (we see them later and they appear to be charred). An operating room shows a man with an open wound as an organ is removed and placed into a boy, also with an open bloody wound, and we see stitches being applied.
 Several dogs and a boy are surrounded by drones, dog catchers and robot dogs: the boy shoots the drone several times using a slingshot and breaking the camera attached to it; the boy is caught in a net, tasered and restrained as he is lifted off the ground and the dogs attack the catchers and the drone bursts into flames and crashes to the ground. Four dogs are surrounded by robot dogs and dog catchers. A dog spits military grade teeth out of his mouth during a fight and blows up several robot dogs.
 A dog is placed in a cage that is then placed in an open carrier that moves along a cable over a body of water to an island filled with debris and garbage; the cage is dropped to the island's surface and the dog is left alone in the cage as a thunderstorm pours rain on it and rats scurry around outside the cage. A dog leaves a boy when the boy insists on doing something and when the boy returns he is frightened and sad trying to find the dog. Two dogs and a boy jump into flowing water below them and they float away; they are pulled into a drain and spat out into more moving water. A dog in a cage is surrounded by other dogs and seems concerned as the scene ends.
 A man speaking in support of saving the dog population from annihilation is pelted with food and furniture from an audience of people (he is seen with a spot of blood on his head). Two sumo wrestlers wrestle and one is thrown out of the ring by the other (no injuries are shown). Symptoms of a dog disease are listed as insomnia (we see a dog whose eyes are bloodshot), extreme aggression (we see a dog in a frenzy and barking) and narcolepsy (we see several dogs sound asleep on their backs).
 We see plans and drawings of robot dogs and a dog prison. We see pictures of sick dogs with runny noses, patchy coats, bloodshot eyes and one picture shows a dog biting a person's leg (there's no blood).
 A dog vomits after saying, "You make me sick," and we see vomit leave his mouth. A dog has a few patches of fur missing from his coat. A dog drinks from a barrel and another dog says that it contains toxic chemicals that turned another dog's tongue black (the first dog spits out the water). We see bones in a cage. A young boy is shown in a hospital bed after an accident and we see his legs and arms in casts and he has bandages on his head (we understand that he lost a kidney). We see animations of dog flu being cured and snout fever being treated. A cage with dog bones in it is buried in a deep hole. A teenage girl is shown with a safety pin through her cheek. A dog snatches a tick off another dog's nose and spits it out. A fish is placed on a cutting board and screwed to the board as it is cut into smaller pieces (we see a bit of blood as the fish squirms a few times); a crab is prepared by removing its shell and cutting off its legs as it tries to walk away and an octopus tentacle, still squirming, is cut up with a butcher knife. A tick skitters around and through a dog's fur in an extended scene. We see a dog missing one leg and using a prosthetic in its place. We see many dogs with wounds and bandages and it is said that they were used in experiments. An owl drinks from sewer water. We see prisoners wearing prison uniforms and carrying cats. A dog is injected with a serum and we see him glow as if being X-rayed before returning to normal. A dog is shown on a respirator. A dog is shown with a glowing artificial eye, bandages on his head and body and limping from injuries. We see what seems to be a memorial statue to a hero dog.
 We are told that a boy has undergone brain surgery and survived but that he has lost a kidney (he had only one left). A dog barks at an owl and the bird flies away. A dog growls at a young boy and says, "I bite." A teen girl throws a chalk eraser at another boy writing on the board and he says, "Ow." A dog talks about eating another dog that had fallen into a coma and was very sick (the dog talking cries, remembering his friend). We hear that a boy has died and we see a funeral being broadcast on TV with R.I.P. written on a photo. A dog says, "He's going to poison us." A teen foreign exchange student visa is rescinded and she is told that she will be sent home. Teenage protestors charge a stage and make a plea to the audience. A man talks about dogs being captured and violently destroyed. A man yells at a young boy when he tries to pet a dog. We are told that a candidate for political office is placed under house arrest. A dog talks about having bitten a boy so hard that he nearly chewed his hand off (he says there was a lot of blood). A dog talks about another dog having committed suicide by hanging himself with his own leash. A teen girl yells at a woman and shakes her by the shoulders to try to get information from her. A mayor signs a decree to exile all dogs to an island where trash is dumped. We see pictures of assorted disease-carrying insects as we hear about sick dogs and the transmission of disease to humans. References are made to the destruction caused by a tsunami, an earthquake and a volcanic eruption. References are made to annihilation of people and animals. Several dogs investigate a plane crash and ask if the pilot (a young boy) is dead and if they should eat him. We hear that a boy's parents were killed in an accident and he was badly injured but is OK now. We hear about a "clenched fist gang." A young boy says that he wants to be cremated with his dog and that the ashes should be scattered to the wind. A reference is made to a dog suffering from thirst and starvation. A dog talks about other dogs being cannibals. A dog yells at another dog for shirking his responsibilities. A reference is made to putting dogs to sleep. A man says, "I have no honor." A group of government officials discuss what punishment is suitable for people who harm dogs (including the death penalty). A reference is made to "nearly beheading an industrial lobbyist."

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LANGUAGE 2 - 1 anatomical term, 4 mild obscenities, name-calling (bad dogs, cat-loving, weaker, sadder, angrier, crook, maniacs, stray, housebroken pets, sweetheart, thugs, naysayers, screw loose, dog zero, fuzz ball, fraud, part of an island is referred to as "the middle fingers"), exclamations (oh dear, holy smokes, holy Moses, oh boy), 2 religious exclamations (Holy Smokes, Holy Moses).

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SUBSTANCE USE - A teen girl injects a dog with a serum, and a teen girl is injected with a serum and she glows briefly. Several men and women toast while holding test tubes presumably filled with alcoholic beverages, a woman at a bar drinks and appears to be upset, a barman is shown with bar tools on a tool belt, and a dog pours "Turpentine Brandy" from a small keg on his collar and dogs drink it.

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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Epidemics, spread of disease, quarantine, exile, cruelty, friendship, the future, suicide, disobedience, conspiracies, rumors, cannibals, lack of legal counsel, deportation, family, loyalty, failure, extermination, corruption, breaking campaign promises, dogs and human companions.
MESSAGE - Blaming all problems on a particular group is unethical and counterproductive.
CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.



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