A Chance to Do Some First-Class Scouting

2 Jun

What is Moonrise Kingdom?

Where is Moonrise Kingdom?

In Wes Anderson’s enchanting new film, Moonrise Kingdom may be the name the two main characters give to a section of beach where they spend a special evening together, but it’s clear that Moonrise Kingdom is so much more than one single place.

In Moonrise Kingdom, Sam and Suzy (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) are young kids who run away together — he from his scout troop, where he’s the least popular member, and she from a home where she’s a problem child to distracted parents. They’re in love, you see — a relationship that blossomed via a series of letters sent back and forth — and nobody understands.

Not Sam’s troop leader (a delightfully goofy Ed Norton), not Suzy’s parents (Frances McDormand and Anderson mainstay Bill Murray), not Social Services (Tilda Swinton), and, at least at first, not Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), the dopey head of police, who is having an affair with Suzy’s mother.

But anyone who’s ever been young and possessed a similar spirit of adventure and a need to escape surely can. Anderson wonderfully captures the feeling of young love among misfits, and a need to get away from a world that doesn’t get you.

In typical Anderson fashion, every character is quirky — the above mentioned ones, plus a scout chief played by Harvey Keitel, a Legionnaire played by Jason Schwartzman as if he was channeling an older, more resourceful Max Fischer, and Norton’s entire troop of scouts, each one with their own specialty and dominant trait.

No wonder Sam and Suzy run away.

Moonrise Kingdom includes other Anderson trademarks — meticulously designed shots, a whimsical score, retro music on the soundtrack, a literate and highly quotable screenplay (by Anderson and Roman Coppola) — and it likely won’t win over non-fans.

But it’s good-hearted fun, and one of the sweetest movies I’ve seen in a long time.

The search party’s increasingly frantic and misguided search, Bob Balaban’s occasional appearances as the narrator (“Here comes Jed with the mail!”), and an epic hurricane at the climax all add to the frenzy, but really, they’re just more evidence that the older we get, the weirder we get.

Sam and Suzy have the right idea, and Anderson taps right into the innocence of childhood in a way he hasn’t done before in any of his films (which include The Darjeeling Limited and Fantastic Mr. Fox).

Moonrise Kingdom, then, is a symbolic place for us all to return to. Appropriately, Anderson’s movie is one I’d definitely see again.

I’m giving the film an A–.

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3 Responses to “A Chance to Do Some First-Class Scouting”

  1. amandalovesmovies June 2, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Liked this one a lot. Check out my review!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 2012 Was a Masterful Year for the Movies « Martin's Musings - December 21, 2012

    […] Moonrise Kingdom Wes Anderson taps into the innocence of childhood in a way he hasn’t done before in any of his […]

  2. Argo Get Yourself Some Oscars | Martin's Musings - February 22, 2013

    […] Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master I’d love to see Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola take this for Moonrise Kingdom, or even better, Anderson for The Master, but Boal’s exhaustively researched screenplay was […]

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