Wes Anderson is arguably my favorite director and Rushmore has always been one of my favorite movies, so it was with much excitement that I finally got around to seeing Moonrise Kingdom, his latest film. Now this film has had incredibly good reviews and in fact it is polling 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, so my expectations were pretty high going in.
The plot is about a young Khaki Scout, Sam Shakusky, who at scout camp on the island of New Penzance, falls in love with local Suzy Bishop, the daughter of the eclectic Bishop family. Sam is orphan who, suffice it to say, has some emotional issues and Suzy has plenty of her own angst to go around. They are imaginative, adventurous and on the verge of discovering the opposite gender. The two of them conspire to meet and run away for a few days while exploring both the island and young love.
The film boasts a star studded cast featuring Wes Andersons regular of Bill Murray while adding Ed Norton, Bruce Willis and Francis McDormand. Jason Schwartzman also has a bit part towards the end. The movie is full of Andersons’ typically meticulous yet playful sets and shots with every prop, detail and costume under his close stylized scrutiny. The dialogue is his usual quirky and dry writing while still offering profound insights into the lives of the characters.
The theme of the movie is the nostalgic, innocent young love most of us nerds longed for but never had. Suzy and Sam connect on an emotional and intellectual level, if not quite on a physical level yet. Anderson sets up a brilliant contrast between the innocence and idealism of Suzy and Sam versus the human reality of every day struggles and failures that Suzy’s parents’ marriage is going through. Ed Norton and Bruce Willis both are trying to come to grips with the hard realities of being good, father like authority figures while coping with their own loneliness and inadequacies.
At first I walked out thinking that the movie was good but not great, but as I distance myself from it and think more about it, I am really beginning to love it. The heart of the show is Suzy and Sam and they shine in the roles they are given. The film is brilliant when it follows them. The last third of the film gets away from their romance which at first I didn’t like, but it still delivers in the end. My one real complaint is that Bruce Willis never really added much to the movie. Or rather he and Ed Norton basically play the same character. Willis the local police officer and Norton the scout master. I think you could have taken Willis and out just incorporated his plot arc into Norton’s.
Despite that, I really enjoyed the movie. I love Anderson’s sense of humor, dry dialogue and his off-beat visuals and it is good to see him hit another home run. I give this movie four a very solid 4 babbles.