MARCH 28, 2018 -- Just in case you had the idea, Wes Anderson's latest film is not a remake of the 2011 crime thriller "Isle of Dogs" set in the grubby streets of London. Instead it is set on a grubby island of trash where all dogs from fictional Japanese city of Megasaki in the not too distant future.


Produced in stop motion, just like his fabulously funny "Fantastic Mr Fox", we find a cat loving mayor Kobayashi banishing all dogs to Trash Island to prevent the spread of Dog Flu to humans. The first dog to go is his son Atari's (Koyu Rankin) pooch Spots (voiced by Liev Schreiber). This does not please Atari, so he steals a plane and flies to Trash Island to find his pet.

On the island he is met by the Alpha dog Chief (Bryan Cranston) and several other dogs - Rex (Ed Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray), Duke (Jeff Goldblum) and others who reluctantly agree to help the boy find his mutt. Atari is joined by Tracy (Greta Gerwig) whose motivation is a crush on him.


Don't expect more than the boy saving dog storyline, that is one of the great things about this film...the story's simplicity. Some might read a few things into the cross cultural sterotypes but this is jus Anderson being his usual quirky self. Remember this is the director of "Grand Budapest Hotel" set in the fictional country of Zubrowka, "Moonlight Kingdom" set in a fictional town in New England, and "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" on the fictional boat The Belafonte.


You'll recognize Anderson's usual cast of talent in Norton, Goldblum, Tilda Swinton and Murray. Scarlett Johansson voices the hot little show dog Nutmeg for whom Chief has the hots; their first meeting is classic. The dialogue between characters is what drives the film much as it did with "Fantastic Mr. Fox".


What you will immediately appreciate is the amount of detail in the stop motion animation. It took Anderson's crew of artists two years to complete the posing. Everything comes together again with the cinematography of Tristan Oliver who captured "Fantastic Mr. Fox", "Chicken Run" and "Wallace & Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit".


As with all Anderson films, expect the story to take ridiculous turns with irreverent chaos. There is some critical boo-hooing about minor cultural insensitivity, but truthfully - it is merely Wes Anderson... you either get his material or you don't.


"Isle of Dogs" is Wes Anderson at his usual fun and off-beat self, entertaining us with highly imaginative and totally off center humor.   -- GRADE A --   GEOFF BURTON