Apr 4, 2014

[Movies] Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

This movie should complete my initial round-up of Wes Anderson movie reviews - at least until The Grand Budapest Hotel comes out and I finally getting around to re-watching Bottle Rocket. I had actually watched this some time last year, but for one reason or another I forget to get around to reviewing it.

Admittedly, Moonrise Kingdom left me feeling a little weird inside at first. As much as I sort of get this feeling after watching Wes Anderson movies in general, this movie hit be a bit stronger than I had anticipated and I know I spent a few more days (weeks?) thinking about the movie and what it meant to me. And that's a sign of a good movie, at least in my book.

And it's sort of strange how the movie didn't seem all that amazing at first. I think after I first finished it I actually felt a little underwhelmed. But then it sort of percolated in my head a bit more and as I thought more about the movie, I came to appreciate it more. It's beauty is rather subtle and it strikes you in a different way compared to most Anderson movies. It still has the quirky style and almost eccentric moments, but there's still something else about it that strikes you in a deeper way

Synopsis: Moonrise Kingdom is a 2012 comedy drama with strong coming-of-age leanings as written and directed by Wes Anderson together co-screenwriter Roman Coppola.

It is 1965 and we are introduced to the orphan Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman), who is at a summer camp for the Khaki Scouts, all on the fictional New England island of New Penzance. Camp Ivanhoe is led by Scoutmaster Randy Ward (Edward Norton) who does his best to teach the boys that the need to know. All that changes when Sam disappears from camp for reasons unknown to them. In truth, his disappearance is part of a plan to run away with the young love of his life, Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), after the two had fallen in love after a long pen pal relationship.

The two meet up and start to survive on their own in the wilderness given Sam's scouting skills and Suzy's own practical knowledge. But the rest of the Khaki Scouts search for the missing Sam and eventually stumble upon the couple. Thus Sam and Suzy try to evade capture and find a secluded cove to camp out in. Them being found is a bit of an inevitability given the entire community is just on this one island, but there's a heck of a lot more story to this movie apart from them initially not being found.

The story seems like an almost simple one - two kids who have fallen in love decide to run away together. Of course the main twist is probably that Wes Anderson touch that we see in all of this movies, in this case how the kids were made into unique, complex characters. And while Anderson has always had a penchant for rather precocious characters, Sam and Suzy were written with a certain level of maturity that's certainly pushing things in terms of 12 year olds but totally works within the narrative. And the two young actors managed being the leads in this movie admirably well. I did not feel like we were being cheated out of an e entertainment experience here.

The primary mood set for this movie once again leans more along the lines of warm tones and bright yellow shades that make things out to be a little cheerier than they really are. And there's a lot of layers to this story including Sam's status as an orphan, kids bullying one another, one Captain Duffy Sharp (Bruce Willis) of the local police being more than just a cop - but totally a human being.

The movie naturally features of host of well-known actors who have now become part of the Wes Anderson cycle of movies. Tilda Swinton makes for a rather striking representative of Social Services and Frances McDormand is once again quite the endearing mother. But admittedly I really got lost in Edward Norton's rather unique performance as Scout Master Randy Ward that sort of combines a lot of his part roles ranging from the mousy to the determined.

On the whole, it probably helped that Moonrise Kingdom had a more linear plot and didn't spend too much time building up minor characters and their back stories. And while I love those moments, they can distract the average viewer from what's really going on. The end result is a rather lovely and endearing movie that really is just about young love and I foresee watching again some time in the near future. In the meantime, the movie rates 4.5 unusual merit badges in the Khaki Scouts out of a possible 5.

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