Wes Anderson, director of Fantastic Mr. Fox and the Oscar-winning The Grand Budapest Hotel, is back behind the camera with another journey into stop-motion animation. Isle of Dogs is set 20 years in the future, where all of Japan’s dogs have been quarantined on an island full of garbage due to an outbreak of “dog flu.”
It looks very quirky, as would be expected from a Wes Anderson film, and it features an all-star cast of voice actors. Bryan Cranston and Edward Norton voice the main characters, along with an impressive ensemble that includes Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson, Harvey Keitel, Kunichi Nomura, Greta Gerwig, F. Murray Abraham, Courtney B. Vance, Tilda Swinton, and Yoko Ono.
Bill Murray spilled some details about the film back in 2015 when he was accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Marrakech International Film Festival. “I’m playing a dog,” Murray told The Playlist. “And it’s a Japanese story and I’m playing a dog. I’m very excited.”
The film chronicles the adventures of a Japanese boy as he sets off to the island to find his lost dog “Spots.” The poster for the movie also features Japanese translations for all the major actors.
— Isle of Dogs (@isleofdogsmovie) September 21, 2017
Rather than a family film, the new movie may well be an homage to an icon of Japanese cinema, as well as drawing inspiration from a surprising source. “I really liked these TV Christmas specials in America. I always liked the creatures in the Harryhausen-type films, but really these American Christmas specials were probably the thing that really made me want to do it,” Anderson said in a conversation at ARTE Cinema. “The new film is less influenced by stop-motion movies than it is by Akira Kurosawa.”
Last year, Anderson raffled off a small part in Isle of Dogs through Crowdrise to benefit Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, a non-profit organization which helps to restore old movies. The effort raised more than $250,000 for the foundation.
No word yet on what “lucky dog” got to add their voice to the star-studded film. Isle of Dogs comes out in theaters March 23, 2018.