Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Directed by Wes Anderson
Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis.
In honor of The Grand Budapest Hotel, the first movie to get director Wes Anderson his long overdue Best Picture and Best Director Oscar nominations, we here at AWNE thought it appropriate to look at his past works and finally get his name into the Bucket. It’s always a grueling task trying to pick my favorite Wes Anderson movie and, with each one that he releases, the list of candidates only grows longer. They are each of them excellent in their own unique way, but there are, of course, those that I prefer more than others. Though I can’t claim it to be my absolute favorite of the lot, Moonrise Kingdom is certainly up there and a movie that I am endlessly fond of and deem worthy of greatness.
Moonrise Kingdom is Anderson’s delightful coming of age story – a heartfelt story about young love with children acting like adults, adults acting like children, with all the quirkiness and pep true to the director. We find ourselves in New Penzance following two young, misunderstood lovers Sam and Suzy (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward), as they run away together, leaving behind their families and/or Khaki scout troop. Black sheep amongst their peers and surrounding grown-ups, Sam and Suzy trek cross-country together in search of their secluded little paradise, “Mile Marker 28” (later known as “Moonrise Kingdom”). Naturally, there absence is noted and an island-wide search is put underway bringing together Sam’s fellow scouts, led by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), Suzy’s dysfunctional lawyer parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and the depressed island police officer (Bruce Willis).
Told through the warm, postcard picture-esque 16mm film, the wonderful thing about Moonrise Kingdom is how it brilliantly captures the innocence and naivety of youth, along with the silliness and the silliness of grown-ups as if it were told through a child’s perspective. As with all of his movies, the cast is wonderful all around, but leave it to Anderson to bring together a cast of truly talented kids to carry a feature film like this – each of the young actors have hilarious and moving moments throughout this movie, giving it an unparalleled charm. These kids completely embody the children we are or were at some time or another, saying the things that I know I wish I’d been able to say at certain moments and situations in my adolescence. It’s both surprising and amusing in that it’s completely relatable to what childhood felt like – how funny it can be looking back, how much of an impact, whether influential or emotional, that the adults around us had. The entire movie is incredibly endearing because of this instant connection that we’re able to make with the characters.
I have said, as I’m sure many have, that we are very fortunate to have directors the likes of Wes Anderson working in the industry today. Since Bottle Rocket and all the way up to The Grand Budapest, Anderson has maintained his artistic integrity and to great effect. His movies will always be garnered as Wes Anderson movies, but only because they deserve to be referred to as such. Through his unique qualities and perfected visual approach, he has created a genre of himself, and for some that may be a bad thing, but for the rest of us who consistently enjoy his works then it’s simply the gift that keeps on giving. Moonrise Kingdom may not necessarily be my favorite Wes Anderson movie, but it is a great movie nonetheless. Funny, charming, sad, and sincere, this film strikes a cord on every level and there’s a certain level of enjoyment to be had, as with all of his films. On that note, I’d say don’t necessarily give this movie a watch, but just go and throw on a Wes Anderson flick, you’ll be entertained either way.