Moonrise Kingdom Movie Review
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Directed by Wes Anderson
Introducing Jared Gilman (Sam Shakusky), Kara Hayward (Suzy Bishop)
Also Including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Francis McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balaban
I know, I know, it’s been out all summer, and just now I’m putting up a review. Setting aside the fact that this blog isn’t even as old as the movie, I have truthfully just been setting off watching Wes Anderson’s new feature film. Not because I dislike his films, but purely because I was lazy and I wasn’t sure if I would like it. Well after a long and arduous family dinner, my cousin and I were desperate to just find any movie to watch in the theaters that we hadn’t seen yet. Since The Watch was apparently not shown at any of the theaters that we go to, I convinced her to watch Moonrise with me. Now having left the theater, I can say with a good amount of confidence that that was the best movie I’ve seen all summer. Blockbusters and comic book superheroes are fun, but this warm, quirky, and heartfelt movie had me drooling in adoration from the very beginning.
As always, no plot spoilers or anything, in these reviews, so read on if you haven’t seen it and then afterwards get yourself to a movie theater. One of the best parts of this movie was its wonderful direction. I am sad to say that I haven’t seen any other of Anderson’s films, or if I have I definitely don’t remember them. But I knew of his reputation, so I went in knowing what to expect, but still being blown out of the water. What a fantastic view of life. I am a sucker for the vintage and that 1960’s clean cut white bread New England lifestyle where everything is childish bright colors and wooden houses with kids going off to scout camp and listening to vinyls. Needless to say, just visually, I was already captured. The hues of the film, along with the makeup and costuming played at the very core of my design aesthetic. I loved the camera work in this, going from Suzy’s binoculars to the interspersed narration by Bob Balaban. Nothing was missing in detail, from the smoking (done by multiple characters in the classic 1960’s “pre lung cancer statistics and second hand smoke statistic” days) to mini motorbikes and battery powered record players.
Now what I think made this movie, and what gave it such high marks, was not only the writing, but the solid and superb acting performances. I had a difficult time accepting that it was Gilman and Hayward’s first performances, because they were so realistic. A standing ovation also goes to the wonderful child actors who molded so well to their roles. The protagonist couple are incredibly authentic in their roles, and I found myself sympathizing with both of their characters. The mix of comedy and drama through the eyes of a young adult were the most genuine, and of course the audience falls in love with the two outcasts. Sam Shakusky, an orphaned boy, pushed around and disliked by most of the boys in his life. Suzy Bishop is a troubled girl misunderstood by her parents and peers. Yet both Sam and Suzy are clever and mature, and it’s not hard to get onto their side and hope for a happy ending for the lovers. Great performances by Murray and McDormand as the Bishops, parents to Suzy and three younger boys, who were wonderful playing a distant yet definitely married couple, both hilarious when they quote legalese and refer to their jobs as lawyers. Norton and Willis were both heartwarming, though Norton takes the cake as my favorite adult actor in the film, playing a very adorable scout master/math teacher.
In short, there was little to nothing I found wrong with this film. The fantastic score by Alexandre Desplat was the icing on top of the cake, and did a perfect job of setting the mood to the film. The gorgeous set and design had me wishing for better days and to live on a secluded island on some New England coast. Overall, one of the most underrated films of the summer, but at the same time one of the most perfect. Go see it in the theaters, hell, I may go see it again tonight. It’s worth the money for all the right reasons. I give this movie a solid A+, and intend on going on a Wes Anderson movie marathon after this.