It's a film seemingly engineered in a lab to appeal to canine lovers everywhere (aka pretty much everyone), and accordingly the first trailer for Isle Of Dogs is a furry delight. The stop-motion animated movie from Wes Anderson has a lot in common with the rest of the Oscar-nominated filmmaker's oeuvre, including The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Royal Tenenbaums. There's the famous cast (here mostly lending their voices to especially chatty puppers), the quirky sensibility, and, of course the indie soundtrack. And the song in the Isle Of Dogs trailer is particularly noteworthy.
The two-and-a-half minute promo starts with a soundtrack of drums and Japanese-inflected music, appropriate for the film's setting in a futuristic version of that East Asian archipelago. But about halfway through, right around the point a 12-year-old boy crash lands on the eponymous island to search for his missing doggo, the soundtrack changes from score to song, as a man starts singing:
"I've lost all of my pride
I've been to paradise and out the other side
With no one to guide me
Torn apart by a fiery wheel inside me"
Those are the opening lyrics to the song "I Won't Hurt You" by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, a psychedelic rock group that hailed out of California in the 1960s.
The words definitely speak to the movie's story of a young man on a quest to find something he's lost; with no one to guide him — the only human in a land populated entirely by animals — he's driven by a burning desire to regain the part of himself that's missing. (Only, in Isle Of Dogs, that missing thing is a boy's pet rather than a man's pride.) The line about journeying through paradise is especially ironic, considering that Anderson's film takes place on a literal mountain of garbage.
Although West Coast's tenure together was short-lived, only lasting from 1965-1970, the five-man group managed to put out six studio albums in that brief timespan. "I Won't Hurt You" is an original song that hails from the band's debut album, 1966's Volume One, which also contains a number of covers of other famous rockers, including Bob Dylan and The Kinks. The chill strains of the tune certainly wouldn't sound out of place on the similarly classic-rock-inspired soundtracks of Anderson's other popular films.
But the Wes Anderson movie that Isle Of Dogs bears the closest resemblance to is obviously the director's other stop-motion animated movie about animals: 2009's Fantastic Mr. Fox. That's not a bad comparison to make, given that Mr. Fox was nominated for the Oscar, the Golden Globe, and the Critics Choice Award for Best Animated Feature Film. (Of course, it ended up losing all three of those awards to a little Pixar movie called Up.) Fantastic Mr. Fox also secured an Oscar nomination for its Original Score — another category that seems within reach for Isle Of Dogs to repeat in, given that it's scored by Mr. Fox's composer, Alexandre Desplat, who won his first Oscar a few years ago for scoring Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel.
The comparison between Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle Of Dogs has not gone unnoticed by Anderson fans, who were quick to point out the similarities with enthusiasm on Twitter:
Unfortunately, Anderson fans will have to wait a while to find out if his next animated movie can make up for Mr. Fox's lack of trophies. Since Isle Of Dogs doesn't premiere until March 23, 2018, it won't be in the running for this year's Oscars. And with a release date that early in the year, will it still be fresh enough in voters' minds to come out on top at the 2019 Academy Awards ceremony?
Well, if Isle Of Dogs is as amazing as the trailer makes it look, the answer should be a resounding "yes."