One of the reasons people want to read a book or go to the movies is to have the chance to be enveloped and disappear into a world different than our own, one of adventure and love and fun. These worlds can be a strange and complex sci-fi creation or even the very world that we actually live in. In Wes Anderson’s films, we are taken to a place much like our own, with dysfunctional families surrounded by drama and strange, quirky inhabitants. But there is something more to the worlds of Anderson, something to be desired. They are simpler times, with wacky personal interactions that make you laugh out loud and interpersonal relationship developments that change people’s lives but are taken as lightly as the jokes. It is a unique world and film making experience, and it is brought with full recognizable force in Moonrise Kingdom.
On a small island off the coast of New England in the mid 1960’s, a young boy named Sam [newcomer Jared Gilman] out with his camping troop and a young woman named Suzy [newcomer Kara Hayward] living on the island decide to run away together and go on an adventure across the island. Scout Master Ward, the leader of the khaki-scout troop played by Edward Norton, enlists the help of Captain Sharp, the local policeman on the island played by Bruce Willis, to help find the trooper who has “flown the coop”. The young couple knows there is a storm coming when they are eventually found by the two leaders and Suzy’s lawyer parents Walt and Laura Bishop [Bill Murray and Frances McDormand], but they do not know that an actual storm, a hurricane to be precise, is also heading right for them.
There are a lot of things you can expect in a Wes Anderson movie: the cast, the shooting style, the music, the dialogue style, among other things. A lot of these are right in line with his style, but the first thing noted, the cast, is actually really new and different from those of the past. Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman have been big roles in many of Anderson’s films, but in Moonrise Kingdom they only have about 25 minutes of combined screen time. The screen is instead filled by new faces to the Anderson style: Norton, Willis, McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban and a handful of kids that play the scouts in the troop. It is really cool to see these veteran names be cast in an Anderson film and become these almost too-normal of characters, and they all do wonderful jobs. Most everything else falls right in line with Anderon’s previous work styles, and we are taken to a whimsical world with an incredibly soft and easy pallete of colors. The mixing and matching of the colors of the set, scenery, and clothes of the characters is just awesome, and fits the time period and style of the movie perfectly.
The story itself is something a little new to Anderson. Located in vast, open fields, lush forests, and open ocean beaches, the setting is more green and natural than those of his past films. The story also focuses on the relationship of two younger people, as opposed to the younger people being in love/friends with an older person or two older people in a relationship, so there is a difference there as well. The dialogue and interactions are all completely Anderson, and it had my theater laughing throughout the entire film. There are also a few special effects peppered in, something we haven’t seen before with Anderson, that are clearly over the top and make the film all the more funny. And of course, in his own seemingly mis-prioritized kind of way, Anderson puts a lot of sadness and suffering in the film, and there is a lot of growth and gain as the movie progresses.
3.5/4 – With Moonrise Kingdom comes another stylistic installment in Wes Anderson’s film making career. Quirky and hilarious, sad and moving, whimsical and tasteful, this is truly an entertaining film that takes you to a world that people of every age will be able to escape to and love.