Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, and Tilda Swinton
Length: 1 hour and 34 minutes
Genre: Adventure, comedy, drama
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Description from IMDB:
“A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out to find them.”
On the island of New Penzance in 1965, two outsiders, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), fall in love through written correspondence after meeting during a performance of Noah and the Flood. They decide to run away, which causes a search party comprised of his scout master (Edward Norton), local police (Bruce Willis), and Suzy’s parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray) to race against the clock to find them as a hurricane draws near. When it is learned that Sam is going to be sent to an orphanage and possibly retrieve electro-shock therapy for his “behavioral issues”, the pair are aided by allies in an attempt to escape.
Suzy enjoys reading fantasy novels and seeks escapism from her normal life as the older sister of three boys and between two lawyers whose marriage lost its luster long ago. Sam is a boy in the Khaki Scouts; a foster child, he is not liked by the other boys his age because he acts differently from them. Both characters struggle with living in a world that they don’t fit in with, and through this common bond, begin to plot a trip to an isolated cove where they can be alone. Both Sam and Suzy are blunt, which often leads to confrontation with the other inhabitants of the island. While on the run, the two play at being adults; Sam is able to help them forge on due to his training as a scout, and Suzy reads to him in their down time.
The other Khaki Scouts are on the hunt for Sam, and do so with makeshift weapons. They are initially hoping he struggles so that they can hurt him, but when the confrontation finally takes place, they are humbled and eventually decide to help the young lovers. Social Services (Tilda Swinton) is personified as the end of Sam’s freedom and comes from off-island to bring him back to a juvenile refuge with the possibility of being committed to an institute. She must also be swayed into letting Officer Sharp adopt Sam at the end of the film; an act in which Officer Sharp is aided by Suzy’s lawyer parents.
Both protagonists of the film are troubled children who struggle with fitting into the system of their society. As such, Suzy’s parents begin to blame themselves for how she acts and seek professional help in dealing with their “troubled teen”. Sam is abandoned by his foster family after too many issues from how he acts and is able to find solace in living with Officer Sharp. The adults in the film have lost the innocence and hope that the young couple carries, so it is difficult for them to understand where the children are coming from.
Moonrise Kingdom is an entertaining film that doesn’t linger more than is necessary. The story is clear-cut with some figurative imagery thrown in (the play Sam and Suzy meet at is about Noah, and the climax of the film occurs during a flood), but it doesn’t ask too much of the viewer. The visuals are pleasant, especially for those who enjoy Anderson’s use of pastels in the color pallet of setting and costumes. I must admit I don’t care for this film as much as The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), but part of that is a personal appreciation for the more adult themes and execution in the R-rated film. Moonrise Kingdom will make even the most miserly curmudgeon yearn with nostalgia for summers running through the grass and enjoying the outdoors; at least, as long as they didn’t have smart phones during their youth.
Verdict: 3 awkward, yet endearing teenagers dancing on a beach out of 5
Recommended for: Fans of Wes Anderson, those nostalgic for the 1960’s, people that like knee-high socks, fans of pastel colors, and those looking to kill an hour and a half with an entertaining story.
Not recommended for: Those tired of redheads being the antagonist (there are two of them in this movie), those made uncomfortable easily, fans of Tilda Swinton not playing a caricature, or those afraid of water.