Wes Anderson’s fantastical new stop-motion animated feature, “Isle of Dogs,” might be set in a fictitious future Japan where man’s best friend has been exiled to a place literally called Trash Island, but there’s some timely stuff tucked inside the project, including a few messages that designed to dig right into the current state of the world — one that could probably benefit from its stance that, hey, getting rid of creatures you don’t like just because you can isn’t the best way to solve anything.
Star Jeff Goldblum, who lends his voice to the gossipy mutt Duke, agrees wholeheartedly. “I love the movie, I think it’s a monumental artistic achievement,” Goldblum said. “But I love the issues involved. The animal issue, the anti-bigotry — across all, as it relates to everybody — issue, the anti-fear mongering issue, the pro-student uprising issue.”
Asked about the particular timeliness of the film, which includes a subplot regarding a student-led uprising against a corrupt government that seeks to exclude and exile certain parts of the population (canine, but still), and Goldblum had plenty to say. “Shame on them,” Goldblum said about current actions from our own government to similarly exclude and exile people. “We’re all part of a miraculous brother and sisterhood on this gorgeous planet, and we must get along in ecstatic peace.”
Goldblum also voiced his support for America’s own current crop of student protestors, including the teenagers who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Florida and are continuing to use their voice to speak out against gun legislation. “In the real world, in these current matters, I am fully behind [them],” he said. “My passions are also inflamed, in the same area that these kids are. Safety and common sense, for heaven’s sakes.”
“Isle of Dogs” also offers yet another timely parallel to our current culture: the mayoral leader of Megasaki willfully ignores scientific fact in order to bolster his case against the fictional city’s dogs (many of whom are sick with a brutal “canine flu”) after scientists claim that they can actually cure the illness that’s ravaging the population. Mayor Kobayashi, voiced by co-writer Kunichi Nomura, doesn’t care and exiles the dogs to Trash Island anyway. (That doesn’t stop the scientists from attempting to find a cure, though.)
“The powers that be, in this movie, for a time, don’t adhere to scientific fact-based reality,” Goldblum said. “They manipulate it for their own political agenda. You don’t want that. No. I have a high esteem for — as we should all — scientists and human curiosity and investigation, the accomplishments that we’ve made in those areas.”
The notoriously verbose actor didn’t stop there, and rattled off a few comparisons to the kind of faulty science found in Anderson’s film, the kind running rampant in the real world.
“When people deny that the Earth is round, as some do, or that astrology has any credence, or that climate change isn’t real, it hurts us all,” he said. “And we’d better wise up.”
“Isle of Dogs” opens in select theaters March 23 courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.