Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

Moonrise Kingdom [2012]
Director: Wes Anderson
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand
Runtime: 94 minutes

Moonrise Kingdom is the perfect antidote for these hot summer days. Light, vibrant and fun, Wes Anderson’s latest film takes us back to the days of being an adventurous kid.

The movie takes place in 1965 on a small New England island. There are no paved roads, and it is so sparsely populated that everyone knows each other. During the summer, the local “Khaki Scouts”, led by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), set up camp there. As the group of boy scouts work on their badges, one of them sneaks out and runs away. This errant child, Sam (Jared Gilman), has set off to secretly rendezvous with his local crush, Suzy (Kara Hayward), who has also run away from home. Both are outcasts in their social groups, and they have been eagerly awaiting their chance to be together since their random first encounter the previous summer.

Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

Once the children are discovered to be missing, the island’s adults begin to panic. Scout Master Ward reaches out to police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and the two of them begin a search party with the rest of the scouts. Suzy’s parents, Walt and Laura (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand, respectively), are also informed of the situation and join the others in seeking out the missing children.

At its core, Moonrise Kingdom is a story of young love. Sam and Suzy will do anything to be together, and their awkward transition from friendship to dating lends itself to some amusing moments. Although both characters exhibit traits of erratic behavior, they are eminently likable. Wes Anderson did an excellent job with his casting of these two young unknown leads, as they steal the show from the big name adults found in the rest of the cast. It helps to have Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Bill Murray and others as support, but the children are more than capable in their roles. I will say, however, that it was a lot of fun to see guys like Harvey Keitel and Jason Schwartzman dressed up as scout masters.

Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

All of the familiar Wes Anderson traits are present here. He has succeeded in creating a colorful world that is unlike any other, and his trademark fashion selections are as wild and memorable as ever. For those who are less appreciative of his quirks, rest assured that Moonrise Kingdom is easily one of his most accessible feature films.

There were a few moments near the end of the film that I felt were a little too ridiculous (including one seemingly random lightning strike), but on the whole this is an especially enjoyable feature. This is a movie that anyone and everyone can enjoy, and it is one of the early summer highlights this year.


30 thoughts on “Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

  1. John says:

    I couldn’t agree more about that lightning strike. For me, it was really my only beef with the entire film. Well… that and it was a little awkward to sexualize 12 year olds, but having children act like adults is sort of part of the Wes Anderson schtick.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, that was a little strange at first, but it fit within the context of the movie. The lightning strike on the other hand… not so much.

    • Eric says:

      Scott, I wasn’t much of a Wes Anderson fan either, but between this and Rushmore I am starting to enjoy his work more and more. I highly recommend checking this out — it may convert you as well. 🙂

    • Eric says:

      Nice! I wondered what kind of reaction kids would have to this movie. My theater audience was full of 20something yuppies. 😀

  2. sati says:

    Great review! I can’t wait to see this one, I love Anderson’s style and as you said it seems like absolutely perfect summer movie.

  3. gotounknown says:

    I’ve liked the recent Wes Anderson’s movies so I have quite high hopes for this one. Based on your nicely laid out review it seems as if Moonrise Kingdom wouldn’t let me down. Good you mention colorful world (and a partly-bizarre world, in my eyes), that is what makes his movies stand out! Will try to watch it soon 🙂

    • Eric says:

      Haha yeah this island is a little bizarre, for sure. It’s definitely “quirky” but in a really fun way. Since you’re already a fan of Wes Anderson, I think you’ll feel right at home with this one. 😀

  4. sanclementejedi says:

    Nice write up Eric, He probably would not have been hit by lightning if it wasnt for that jar of nickels 😉
    I don’t know if I would call it sexualized 12 year-olds, who wasn’t getting interested in girls/boys at that age and starting to make out and what not? Other than kids playing dungeons and dragons 🙂

    nice review

  5. ruth says:

    Pardon me just glancing over your review, Eric. I’m hoping to see this tomorrow afternoon so I want to go in as fresh as possible not knowing what it’s about. Glad to see the high rating, I have a feeling I’ll love this one!

  6. CMrok93 says:

    Really great movie that just reminded me of what Anderson can do with a wonderful script, ensemble cast, and a bunch of quirky ideas that always seem to work. Hope he can keep this winning streak up because he definitely has a vision that’s always worth seeing, regardless of what the final product is. Good review Eric.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks Dan. Yup, Wes Anderson is definitely one of the more interesting directors working today. I think Moonrise Kingdom may be my new favorite from him.

  7. Dan says:

    Eric, I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed this movie. It’s my favorite film of the year so far. I didn’t have any big issues with the end, but I agree that it became more far-fetched. I agree that it’s one of Anderson’s most accessible movies while retaining his signature touches.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks Dan. I was a little surprised with just how much I enjoyed this movie. It’s definitely one of my early favorites from this year as well.

    • Eric says:

      Wow, thanks Nick. I am flattered by your far-too-kind words. 😀

      Glad to hear you enjoyed this one as well. Will be sure to check out your review.

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