Thursday, July 12, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand,  Jason Schwartzman and Tilda Swinton/
Introducing Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward

Directed by Wes Anderson

Release Date(s):

May 16, 2012....France
May 25, 2012.......U.S.

On a small New England island, there is a search party looking for two runaway children. One, a loner "Khaki Scout" (Gilman) and the other is a young girl lost in a world of young adult fantasy novels. These mismatched misfits soon embark on an adventure without adults or rules. However, there is a massive hurricane coming to strike the little island....

Wes Anderson thrives in his own world of dead-pan witty characters, muted colors, and French New Wave music. He is the filmmaker behind such indie classics as The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and The Darjeeling Limited. His unique perspective and quirky humor have made him a critical darling and a name among directors. Personally, I have liked most of his movies and find The Royal Tenenbaums to be the best of his filmography. So, what do I think of Moonrise Kingdom?

What Works: Once again, Anderson makes great use of his cast. On the whole, the cast does a great job with their characters. I liked Edward Norton as Scout Master Randy and Frances McDormand gets in a few funny lines as Suzy's Mother. However, my favorite has to be Jason Schwartzman as Cousin Ben, the fast-talking middle man who, while not marrying them, can approve their union as a Khaki Scout.  Finally, there is the young couple, Sam and Suzy, played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, respectively. I found that each of these actors did a convincing job with their performance, particularly Hayward being the easy to anger Suzy.

Wes Anderson is well known for the lay-out of his camera work, and Moonrise Kingdom doesn't disappoint. Anderson makes the tiny New England island into a strange hodgepodge of forest, beach, small-town neighborhood, and camp site. For example, there's an amusing scene of Sam paddling across a river in a painted canoe while "Kaw-Liga" by Hank Williams plays on the soundtrack. The scene is both funny and strangely serious, making Sam envision himself as a brave Frontiersman.

What fails: The story, while charming, is scatterbrained at times and the conclusion leaves too many unanswered questions. I'd go into further detail, but I would be going into spoiler territory. The other problem stems from the "villains", such as the motorbike Khaki Scout or "Social Services". Why are these two the villains? They are certainly antagonists, a force opposing the protagonist, but what makes them oppose Sam and Suzy? I feel that a tad more character development with both characters would have helped.

Final Thoughts: If you've never heard of Wes Anderson before, rent some of his earlier films before seeing this. If you're an Anderson fan, I'd just skip this. It's not a bad movie, just not a terribly good one.

Rating:  3 out of 5

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