Moonrise Kingdom

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You’d kill for the relationship that Sam Shukusky and Suzy Bishop have. They met one summer and the attraction was immediate. Over the course of a year they traded letters, and the following summer they decide to leave their old lives behind and start one together. Sam (played by Jared Gilman) is the outdoorsy type and leads Suzy on a journey to a private oasis in the woods. Suzy (played by Kara Hayward) likes to read about girls with superpowers, and at nights Sam falls asleep listening to her stories. They have an open and honest relationship, full of love and respect. Yet it seems like everyone else on their small island town of New Penzance wants to find them and bring them back to the world they ran away from. It’s probably because Sam and Suzy are only about 12 years old.

When the two go missing, an incredibly fun crew of people assembles to find them, including Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor — oops, wrong movie (though I’d argue that the team searching for Sam and Suzy is just as super). In this movie there’s Ed Norton as the Scoutmaster of the troop Sam ran away from, Bruce Willis as the police captain, Bill Murray as Suzy’s father, Frances McDormand as her mother, Tilda Swinton as the Social Services, and a couple other names that I’ll let be a surprise. Ed Norton’s Scoutmaster Ward also employs his troop of scouts on the search mission. Oh and there’s even a dog named Snoopy hot on the young couple’s trail.

The Adults

The Khaki Scouts

Altogether they create quite the funny movie. I found it to be laugh out loud funny, which isn’t always the case with Wes Anderson movies no matter how much I like them (and I do really like them). This movie goes heavier on the humor and quirkiness than previous films and lighter on the tragedy, which may not be a surprise given its PG-13 rating. Anderson’s previous live action movies have all been Rated R. Yet this is definitely a movie for adults. Sam and Suzy may be kids involved in their first romantic relationship, but it’s not some boring puppy love. There’s more at stake in their relationship. Their family lives have not been ideal. Neither seems to stay out of trouble. Suzy has temper issues. Self-sufficient and strong-willed Sam seems to think the rules adults set for kids don’t apply to him. In fact he comes across like an adult trapped in a kid’s body. Together they find a peace and a comfort that the adults in their lives have not been able to provide for them. They need each other. And it’s not about lust. That’s the beauty of using prepubescent kids; they’re not old enough for lust yet, and as such their relationship is built on something even greater.

Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam (Jared Gilman)

It’s interesting to compare their relationship to that of Suzy’s parents, who are the only other couple we spend time in the movie. Whereas one relationship is building towards something positive and supportive for both parties, the other has long moved past that. It wouldn’t be a Wes Anderson movie if there was no tragedy, and the parents’ relationship provides it. In fact, many of the adults in this film are tragic in some way.

Mr. Bishop (Bill Murray), Mrs. Bishop (Frances McDormand), Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), and Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis).

The movie also wouldn’t be a Wes Anderson movie if it didn’t contain his trademark style, from the way the camera smoothly pans to the vibrant colors to all the intricate details, though he’s not using his beloved Bold Futura font for this movie. (Why there’s so much attention given to what font he uses in the first place, I’ve never really understood, but so be it). I loved the opening and how he shows all the action taking place in the house almost simultaneously. It’s not a new technique for him, but it’s so darn effective. Regarding the acting, I don’t even need to say how good everyone is. Just look at the cast. What’s real impressive is how well all the kid actors did. Kid actors who sound and act older than they are can often come across as unbelievable, but I didn’t find that to be true of Jared’s and Kara’s performances, probably because they fit so perfectly into the world that Anderson created; they don’t seem out of place.

Suzy and Sam

Let’s face it: Wes Anderson knows how to make a good, solid film. You can tell he pores over every detail which creates such layered films, which makes you want to watch them again to catch the details you missed, to find the meanings you may have missed. It helps that his stories and characters are always interesting. I already know I’d like to see Moonrise Kingdom again, and I can’t imagine it not making into my favorite films of 2012.

Check out the trailer below and then scroll further down for all the cool character posters for the movie.


Moonrise Kingdom
Director: Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouThe Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox)
Writers: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (CQ, The Darjeeling Limited)

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One Response to “Moonrise Kingdom”

  1. Cinesnatch says:

    Insightful, beautiful review Nic. Thank you for directing me towards it.

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