A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out to find them.A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out to find them.A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out to find them.
Since his flying start with Bottle Rocket and the triumph of Rushmore, I felt that Wes Anderson had rather tottered off a true path. The Royal Tenenbaums was hit and miss, The Darjeeling Limited was too twee, and The Life Aquatic was simply AWFUL. I take against ANY film that wastes Bill Murray.
Moonrise Kingdom doesn't repeat that error. Despite covering ground Anderson's already visited to an extent in Rushmore, MK looks at a teenage crush with fresh eyes, and surrounds it with a fantastic cast of oddballs and misfits. Unlike his films where the characters are irritatingly quirky for the sake of it, these oddballs seem organic to their strange island home. Star among them is Ed Norton as Scout Master Ward, who looks as if he's having the time of his life in shorts and woggles, in charge of a troop described as 'beige lunatics'.
Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray all play their parts but never feel as though they're elbowing for the spotlight, which keeps the mood kind, befitting the hearts of all involved in the search for runaway scout, Sam, and his pen-pal, Suzy.
Visually, it's a feast of saturated colour and fabulous design, but - as with the best of Wes Anderson - the devil's always in the detail. The laughs come from minutely observed accessories (keep an eye on the scouts' badges!) and from throwaway truths. And the soundtrack is a great mix of wistful Western and classical pieces. Definitely buyable.
Anderson flirts with surrealism, but never gets Burtonesque, controlling his story with a firmer hand and to better effect. His situations might be bizarre, but the people in them are always painfully, wonderfully human. It's also a rare film - one you could watch with your grandmother or your grandchildren, with only a couple of moments where young eyes would have to be covered, and no real violence or swearing.
There is an overwhelming feeling of innocence and good will throughout.
I loved it from the opening frames, and it only got better from there.
- May 31, 2012