Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Comedy, Romance

Sam (Jared Gilman) is 12 years old and a menber of the Khaki Scouts, but no one in the troop seems to like him.  Sam is an orphan, living in a foster home, he doesn’t really feel loved by his adoptive parents, and so he acts out, by getting into fights.  Fed up of the Khaki Scouts, Sam resigns in the form of a letter to his Scoutmaster, Scoutmaster Ward. (Edward Norton) Suzy is a 12 year old girl, who gets in fights in school, and hates her mom, Laura, (Frances McDormand) because Suzy knows her mom is having an affair with a local cop, Captain Sharp. (Bruce Willis)  Suzy and Sam become pen-pals, and realize they have a lot in common, parents who don’t understand them, and not many friends to whom they can tell their problems to.  So they pour thier hears out to each other, and finally hatch a plan to run away from home.  The two live on an island, called Penzance Island, in New England, they move to a different part of the island, inside a perfectly pitched tent.  There Sam, and Suzy get to know each other beven better, she reads him bedtime stories, he paints a portait of her, and they are really enjoying their lives for the first time.  By this time, the adults realize that Sam and Suzy are gone and form a search party, with Captain Sharp, and Scoutmaster Ward, Captain Sharp, Suzy’s parents, and the Khaki Scouts all involved in the search.  The Khaki Scotss want to find Sam more out of spite than anything else.  Eventually, they find Sam and Suzy, but by this time, Sam’s foster father has disowned him, again in the form of a letter, and Social Services (Tilda Swinton) is on the way to the campsite, ready to send Sam to an orphanage.  What happens next?  Watch Moonrise Kingdom, and find out.

At first glance, people will watch this movie and think, “How sweet, it’s about first love.”  It is sweet, and it is about first love, but what makes it worth watching, is that Moonrise Kingdom is much deeper than that.  These kids get to know each other, writing letters to one another, and anyone whose ever written a letter by hand, or gotten a handwritten letter, knows how intimate and personal a form of communication that is, now people text each other and abbreviate each word.  There is nothing intimate or personal about a text message or instant message, no matter how many emoticons you put on it.  Sam and Suzy really got to know each other, they’re alienated, lonely artist types, he likes to paint she likes to read, they both are misunderstood by parents and peers, annd so they reach ot to each other and they find love and understanding with each other.  This movie is about finding a person who understands you better than anyone else,  a person who you can confide anything to without shame or embarrassment.  When you find that person, whether your 12 or 112, that is a special feeling, so when Sam and Suzy say they love each other, it feels more honest and real than when a person of 12 would usually say it.  This is undoubtedly a Wes Anderson movie, which means the scenes are resplendent in their bright colors, the characters are quirky, and the dialogue is clipped, as if edited to fit, the films relentless energy.  The acting is superb.  The kids playing Sam and Suzy are pitch perfect, even though they speak more like adults than kids. Bruce Willis is as good as he’s been in anything for a long time.  Captain Sharp is dull, but he develops an honest love for Sam.  Scoutmaster Ward is a true innocent, even though he’s an adult, and Ed Norton, imbues him with a childlike simplicity.  Tilda Swinton is funny as the deadly serious Social Services (that’s her character’s name) She does not suffer fools gladly, and she feels surrounded by fools.  Jason Schwartzman is funnier than anyone in this movie, in a small role as Cousin Ben. Bill Murray another member of Andersons recurring company of players has a small role, and Frances McDormand is used to playing quirky characters after all the Coen brothers pictures she’s been in.  I have very mixed feelings about Wes Anderson movies, I didn’t like the Royal Tennenbaums, or The Darjeeling Limited, but I did like the Fantastic Mr Fox, and The Life Aquatic.  And I really do like Moonrise Kingdom, because it’s heartfelt and personal, like a handwritten letter.

Moonrise Kingdom.  Kids rule this Kingdom.


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