Sandy Kenyon reviews Wes Anderson's 'Isle of Dogs'

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Sandy Kenyon reports on the stop-motion animated comedy film.

This review is going to the dogs because I got word from teachers that the boys in Class 3 at "The Buckley School" in Manhattan are crazy for canines.

I went to Buckley once upon a time, so I brought them to the studio to learn about these furry friends with voices supplied by some very famous folks.

"Isle of dogs" is whimsical, that is to say it is playful, appealing and amusing.

The action voiced by the likes of Scarlett Johansson is assembled frame-by-frame using a technique called stop-motion animation: using lumps of metal, rubber, silicone and other inanimate objects that animators bring to life most painstakingly.

The story is set in Japan 20 years in the future, when a ruler sets out to scare everyone by spreading a lie that dogs are spreading disease. But it is just an excuse to exile them to Trash Island, a.k.a. "The Isle of Dogs."

"Nobody's giving up around here and don't you forget it," says Chief, the alpha dog voiced by Bryan Cranston.

But the hero of the story is a young boy risking his life to rescue his guard dog and all the others.

In this film, all but one human speak Japanese. But as a title card notes, "All barks have been rendered into English" - which is eccentric - but charmingly.

The film from Wes Anderson isn't quite as funny as his aptly named "Fantastic Mr. Fox," but like that one, this manages to entertain all ages.

I agree with other reviewers who say this is a slim story for a film, but I was having too much fun with these canines to quibble.

So now, I'm looking for more doggy tales, which is why I am going to check out "Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero" next week. It's based on a true story of an American soldier in World War I and his best friend.

Both of these movies are fine for third graders. I sat near a younger child at a screening for "Isle of Dogs," and there are a few intense moments, but the 7-year-old didn't seem to mind.

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