Movies: Moonrise Kingdom

Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Indian Paintbrush, Focus Pictures
PG-13; 94 min
4.5 stars (out of 5)


In an attempt to wash the bad taste of The Master out of my mouth, I turned to another Anderson—one with a history of making me happy when it comes to filmgoing. And Moonrise Kingdom was up to the task. Not that it would have been difficult to do better than The Master, but the tone is pitch perfect here, placing Moonrise Kingdom squarely near the top of my favorite Wes Anderson films. I don't quite like it as much as The Royal Tenenbaums but I did enjoy it at least as much as The Life Aquatic and far more than The Darjeeling Limited. (I have yet to see Rushmore or Bottle Rocket; lax of me, I know.)

Okay, so now I've been up front about being a Wes Anderson fan. I even liked that credit card commercial from way back when. ("Are those my birds? I need those.") So to be fair, I was primed to like this movie. It was cute, colorful, and quirky—all the things one expects from Wes Anderson. It told a deceptively simple story in the kind of perfectly visual way only film can provide. I knocked off .25 of a star for predictability, and another .25 for the monotony of line delivery (by which I mean every actor spoke in the same flat tone), but really the art direction here is lovely, from the sets to the care taken with the book covers and costumes.

I think another reason I loved Moonrise Kingdom is it reminded me of one of my own favorite books from when I was a kid, a summer camp story titled August, Die She Must by Barbara Corcoran. There is a haunting tone to the movie that echos the tone of that book, at least for me. Something about passing a point of no return in one's childhood perhaps.

For those who don't know, Moonrise Kingdom is about two pre-teens who, in 1965, contrive to run away together. Except they live on an island, so there's only so far they can really go. Meanwhile, a hurricane is coming . . . As I said, deceptively simple, but the themes are far-reaching, from the sense of entrapment to that of the inevitable. And unlike The Master, one could happily deconstruct this film in any number of ways. Or just enjoy it whole. (As for The Master, who'd want to think about that movie so much or waste any more time on it than one already had by viewing it?)

So thank you, Wes Anderson, for saving my movie-going weekend.

1 comment:

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I truly want to see this movie, but it is not shown in any local theaters: no hot females, fast cars, or loud explosions. Sigh. At least there are no sticky floors and the concessions are affordable when I watch movies on DVD. You made me to want to see it more. Thanks for an insightful review. Roland