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Moonrise Kingdom

Updated on January 28, 2013

Moonrise Kingdom

Director: Wes Anderson

Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Lucas Hedges, Charlie Kilgore, Andreas Sheikh, Chandler Frantz, Rob H. Campbell, L.J. Foley

Synopsis: A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content and smoking

You've never seen a "love story" quite like this...

Leave it up to Wes Anderson to take a simple "boy meets girl" plot device, and turn it into arguably one of the most unique films ever made. Although most mainstream audiences may not like Wes Anderson's style of film making, as it's not conventional by any means. However, that's what makes his style that much more interesting. Unlike most directors that would rely on a basic narrative to tell a story, Anderson dares to be different.

Even a simple story about young kids falling in love, and running away together, can turn into an epic adventure unlike any other; while adding in a touch of subtle humor mixed in between. In the hands of any other director, this movie could have ended up being another cliched ridden romantic comedy, but that's not the case for Wes Anderson.

Heck, even the make out scene, with the two kids in their underwear, could've been a disturbing piece of borderline child pornography, but Anderson somehow writes it in such a way that it's not. If anything, the scene shows the awkwardness and curious side of what we all go through at such a young age, while still managing to portray the characters as naive and innocent.

Like J.J. Abrams did for "Super 8", Wes Anderson uses a sense of innocence and sensibility when it comes to depicting children going through puberty, and possibly finding love for the first time in their lives.

Granted, the themes and characters of the film can be a bit exaggerated at times. Sometimes making the audience think that the worlds he creates can be downright weird, but that's not a bad thing at all. In fact, I'd dare even say that's one of the main reasons why Wes Anderson is a genius, when it comes to making movies. Sure, you don't have to like his style of film making. You can even hate it. However, all his films feature a very unique cast of memorable characters, a colorful atmosphere and tone, and a subtle dry humor that only Wes Anderson could pull off. Indeed, Wes Anderson is a one of a kind director, and I doubt we'll ever see another one like him again.

As for the rest of the review, I'll get into that a bit more after we go into the story first. It's the summer of 1965, and our star crossed lovers are only twelve years old. Although it's obvious they're both naive when it comes to world, and love, but it doesn't seem to hold them back from sneaking away together.

Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphaned boy scout that's been recently disowned by his foster parents, when news breaks out that he's ran away. He runs away to meet with a girl named Suzy (Kara Hayward), whom we're told that he met over a year ago; via flashback sequence. Upon their initial meeting, the two decide to become pen pals. Since that day, they've been writing each other constantly. Suzy, is a rebellious creative young girl that loves to read books, but she's burdened with the fact that her parents are very discontent; along with subtle hints that her parents' marriage isn't working.

And by subtle, we find out that Suzy's mom, Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand), had an affair with a local law enforcement officer named Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) a while back. Although her husband, Walt Bishop (Bill Murray) isn't aware of this affair, but it's made fairly clear to the viewers how emotionally distant these characters are.

As word gets out about Suzy and Sam's plan, Captain Sharp organizes a search party to find them; along with the help of Sam's boy scout unit that's led by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton).

Although on the surface of this movie, it doesn't sound like a complicated plot to figure out. However, that's not what makes Wes Anderson's films great to watch, as all his movies feature subtlety that suggests there's more going on than meets the eye. Take the two lovers, Sam and Suzy, for instance.

It's never made exactly clear what the attraction between them could be. But, what is made clear is that they both feel trapped in their own worlds until they meet each other. Granted, they hardly express it in words, but you can almost tell how they feel about each other through the awkwardness, and subtlety, of their perspective actions.

Another nice touch is the nuances this film depicts about childhood; along with a quirky nostalgic vibe that's sure to resonate with most adult audiences. Although "Moonrise Kingdom" isn't exactly realistic, as I stated earlier, but it's not supposed to be. It's a colorful love story about a young couple going off on an adventure together to be together. Granted, the themes are exaggerated, but the film still manages to make the characters sympathetic and likable.

All the actors in this movie are wonderful in their performances as well, and it seems like Wes Anderson always tends to create characters suited to Bill Murray's strengths. Bill tends to play Walt, with a certain amount of cynicism towards life, and his marriage. As for Frances McDormand, one can easily tell through her performance that her character isn't necessarily a bad person per say. Sure, she cheated on her husband, but as the film plays out, we learn that life isn't always that easy sometimes.

Although "Moonrise Kingdom" wasn't one of the biggest blockbusters of 2012, nor would I say this is Anderson's best film, it was definitely one of the most original and heartfelt movies that I've ever seen. Truly deserving of more Oscar love this year, at a rating of three and a half out of four.


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    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      5 years ago

      Yeah that's true. I think the casting in this movie was great; especially the two leads as you pointed out. But then again, I think that's part of the beauty of Wes Anderson's films is that he knows how to write characters that lean towards each actor's strengths.

      It's a shame this movie didn't get more recognition by the Academy, as this was definitely one of the best films of last year by far.

      Anyways, thanks for stopping by to share some of your thoughts with us, and the compliment as well. :)

    • thebiologyofleah profile image

      Leah Kennedy-Jangraw 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great review- I recall seeing the preview in the theaters a while back and knowing immediately it was Wes Anderson's return to the big screen. I like how his movies are instantly recognizable in the quirky characters, camera angles, and bright colors but each one tells a completely different story.

      I thought Ed Norton was a great addition, it was nice to see him play a different role like this. I think a lot of the success of the movie goes to the correct casting of the two young leads.


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