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“Moonrise Kingdom” – Review (POSITIVE)

June 24, 2012

Wes Anderson’s films are weird and wonderful; they mix characters that act in very different shades of colors. From the egotistical doofus that is Steve Zissou to the mass dysfunctional Tenenbaums, Anderson’s movies are goofier than the next, but still maintain a likeable charm. His latest feature, “Moonrise Kingdom”, takes all those classic approaches he’s done before and sets it to warp drive. It’s honest portrayal of young puppy love between two pre-teen kids.

Set in 1965, days before an infamous storm that would strike Rhode Island, two young kids Suzy & Sam (Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman) decide to run away together with the spirit of their newfound love for one another guiding them. Suzy’s mom & dad (Frances McDormand, Bill Murray), and Sam’s scoutmaster (Edward Norton) learn of there absents and turn to the small towns Captain (Bruce Willis) to find the young love birds. With Sam’s scout buddies hot on their pursuit, will Suzy & Sam find solitude on such a small island?

Let me start off with something that has always caught my eye when it comes to Anderson’s work, the untraditional camera work. He’s a fan of dollying, tripod pans, and extreme close ups. We call this director’s trademark in some cases; he’s reoccurred these styles over and over again. Yet, here in this movie when the story evokes the 60’s, it seems that this manner of filmmaking is best suited for that time. You look back at Italian/French films of that era, films that have inspired Anderson; you can see that the techniques work in its favor. Certain framing throughout the film bring to mind 60’s cinema; the characters hanging in silhouette at the climactic end gave me this old school style filmmaking feel. Many of the visuals throughout the film are harmless gags and clever camera work.

The characters are Anderson friendly, but at the same time not. Many regular filmgoers tend to keep their distance from his films. I don’t understand why, perhaps the sheer corkiness, or odd characterizations in films like “Royal Tenenbaums” or “Life Aquatic…” are a turn off for most people, because the people in Wes’ films aren’t usually the typical cinematic characters. Although here I find that this is a movie many people can find a relationship to. Outcast young kids, who are different, sometimes frowned upon under the eyes of others. Not being able to please your parents, having trouble making friends, and falling in love at an early age creates such complicated emotions. The activities Suzy & Sam conduct on their little adventure by no means is right, nor do they have the right to do such things, but they’re kids, they don’t know any better. For crying out loud, they want to marry at age 12!

The supporting adult players here are terrific in their respective roles, Bill Murray is awesome (that’s a given), Frances McDormand is good (even if she’s underused slightly), Ed Norton is funny in such an opposite role for himself to play, but the real winner here surprisingly enough is Bruce Willis, who may very see his first Oscar nomination from play the role of Captain Sharp. If I could explain it in the best way possible, it’s as if Wes told Bruce that they’re basically going to parody all those badass cop roles he’s done before and it works in Willis’ favor. Overall, “Moonrise Kingdom” is a feel good movie that will certainly make you laugh, and look back at your own childhood, remembering the glory days; good or bad.

GRADE: A

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