Captain Fantastic is a movie about a man called Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his family. The family lives self-sufficiently in an isolated forest, the children are home-schooled, and their parents teach them to value books and music over consumerism and technology. But when their mother (Trin Miller) dies, the family must leave their isolation and confront the challenges of the outside world.
Mental illness; suicide; death of a parent; family breakdown; death of an animal
Captain Fantastic has some violence. For example:
- One of the children tackles a deer and slits its throat. Blood spurts everywhere and the deer dies. Later, other children hang up the deer carcass in preparation for eating it.
- The children train to fight with sticks. Ben encourages them to ‘stab to kill’.
- Ben gives the children weapons like crossbows and knives as presents.
- The children watch their cousins play violent video games.
- Ben’s father-in-law shoots an arrow near Ben’s head to show him how dangerous crossbows are.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Captain Fantastic has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:
- In a coming of age ritual, Bo has deer blood painted on his face and then he eats a raw deer heart.
- One of the young children has animal bones hanging around her room.
- We learn that the children’s mother had severe bipolar disorder and has committed suicide – this event isn’t shown in the movie. The children are distraught when they learn about it. One of the sons gets a knife and starts stabbing the wall in frustration.
- The family is rock-climbing, and one of the children slips and breaks his wrist.
- Ben fakes a heart attack so the kids can steal food from the supermarket.
- One of the girls slips, falls off a roof and hits her head. She is badly injured and has a neck brace and crutches for the rest of the movie.
- The family digs up their mother’s coffin (from her grave) and cremate her.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed or scared by the scenes mentioned above.
Younger children in this age group might be affected by the scenes mentioned above.
Captain Fantastic has some sexual references. For example:
- Family members are talking about the book Lolita, and Ben explains to the children about rape and sexual intercourse.
- Ben talks to Bo about sex.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Captain Fantastic shows some use of substances. For example:
- Ben explains to his kids what crack cocaine is and talks about its negative side effects.
- A teenage girl smokes a cigarette.
- Ben gives his children (including the young ones) wine at dinner.
Nudity and sexual activity
Captain Fantastic shows some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Ben is shown naked (but not in a sexual context).
- We see a young child’s naked bottom.
- Ben kisses his wife.
- Bo and a teenage girl are shown heavily ‘making out’. Bo says that he would like to have sex with her.
The following products are displayed or used in Captain Fantastic: Nike and Adidas.
Captain Fantastic has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Captain Fantastic is an emotionally touching and poignant movie about grief, the difficulties of parenting, and the importance of respect.
Because of disturbing themes and scenes and coarse language, Captain Fantastic isn’t suitable for young children. It’s most suitable for viewers aged 15 years and older. We don’t recommend it for children under 13 years, and we do recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- Relationships and knowledge are more important than material goods.
- We should respect others’ values and choices in life.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:
- individuality and uniqueness
- respect for others
- strength in adversity.
You might also like to talk with your children about:
- the lifestyle differences between the two families featured in the movie
- the reasons why parents might want or need to hide the truth from their children.