Viggo Mortensen stars as Ben, a back-to-basics dad raising his family way off grid, in a cabin deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. When his wife dies, the kooky family sets off to carry out her wishes and spare her the Christian funeral her parents plan.
It’s a road trip movie, focused on following the six fish-out-of-water backwoods kids, as they journey through a modern, materialist America, fraught with challenges for a single dad intent on educating his kids in socialist ideals, and survivalist skills.
With no need to hunt your own food in the age of shopping malls and fast food joints, the question posed is how best to raise children. Do we equip them for today’s realities, or dream big and fill them with ideals of utopia? Heavy ideas, handled with a light touch by writer/director Matt Ross, making for a witty, warm and winsome tale of the post-modern family, Little Miss Sunshine variety.
The narrative doesn’t quite hold together for the third act, so whilst it may not be fantastic, it sure is an entertaining journey, in the company of a compelling cast of kids, guided by a magnetic Mortensen. His Ben’s no superhero, but rather an all-too human father. You may not agree with his unconventional approach to parenting, education and grief counselling, but it’s hard not to warm to a guy whose love for his family shines so bright.