Review – “The Wolfpack” is a Documentary You Have to See to Believe

When I write my reviews, usually I will write about the movie a few hours after seeing it.  I gather my thoughts and let the movie simmer so I can compile a full, cohesive opinion of the movie.

After seeing the documentary “The Wolfpack”, which I saw earlier this week, I was unable to write my review right away due to other obligations I needed to attend to.  Initially, my thoughts on the Sundance Film Festival 2015 winner of Best Documentary was that it was an interesting film, but nothing spectacular and somewhat of a disappointment as a Sundance winner, seeing as past winners like “How to Die in Oregon” (2011), “Restrepo” (2010), and “The Cove” (2009) are some of the best documentaries I have ever seen.

However, after seeing the movie a couple days ago, I am really glad I am able to write this review now as opposed to then, because “The Wolfpack” is great.  It is one of the most fascinating documentaries I have ever seen and one that makes you truly appreciate human interaction and the little things in life.

The story of this movie is so bizarre and incredible, you wouldn’t believe it without seeing it.  It focuses on the Angulo brothers, six brothers who have been locked away in their New York City apartment for their entire lives because of their insane, mind-controlling father.  The kids were homeschooled and had only been outside the apartment only a few times in their entire lives.  The brothers learn everything they know about the outside world from watching movies, from “Reservoir Dogs” to “The Dark Knight”.  They even go as far as to reenact the films, playing multiple characters and making fake guns using cereal boxes and tape.  They write down the dialog word for word and recite them perfectly, even sometimes impersonating the original actors from the movie.

The movie also looks at the boys as they begin to grow tired of their father’s ways to the point where one of them leaves the apartment and that starts a chain of events that changes the boy’s lives.

Director Crystal Moselle does a great job giving the boys one-on-one interviews so we really understand them.  They all look alike, thin kids with long black hair down to almost their knees, but each one is different and we get that from the interviews.  Some of them are comfortable with their situation at home, others want to leave and explore the world.

We get plenty of scenes of the boys reenacting the movies and they are some of the films best scenes.  My favorite reenactments were “Pulp Fiction” and “The Dark Knight”, in which one of the brothers does and eery, almost perfect impression of Heath Ledger’s Joker.  These scenes are funny, impressive, and sad, because this is the only outlet these kids really have.

Their is a point in the movie where the boys have left the apartment a number of times and now do it regularly and the parents have accepted it.  On Valentine’s Day, the boys go to a movie theater for the first time ever.  They get all set up, with popcorn, candy, and beverages, something that we do on a regular basis and don’t think that there are people who don’t have this luxury, especially giant movie fans.  Their enthusiasm, giddiness, and happiness is something you rarely see nowadays.  They see David O. Russell’s “The Fighter” and after the movie, the boys celebrate in the streets, loving the movie and the experience.  One of the boys, as excited as ever, says, “My money is going to David O. Russell!  My money is going to Mark Wahlberg!  My money is going to Christian Bale!”  It was this scene, this moment of sheer joy, that made me love this movie.

“The Wolfpack” is a movie that you need to see to believe.  It is an experience that I am glad I waited to review and give the film justice.

MY RATING – 3.5/4

Follow me on Twitter @kevinwoz2988 for more movie news and reviews.

Image courtesy of YouTube via Vice.

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