EDWARD NORTON BRUCE WILLIS BILL MURRAY FRANCES MCDORMAND TILDA SWINTON
JASON SCHWARTZMAN BOB BALABAN HARVEY KEITEL JARED GILMAN KAYA HOWARD
Writer/director Wes Anderson is the type of director from who you know what to expect
when you see his films. The characters attitudes are always the same, the scripts
are always dry, and Anderson creates these imaginative worlds that look and feel
more like a pop-up story book with each turning page. The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling
Limited, and now Moonrise Kingdom are all branches on the same tree. This also makes
the sixth time Anderson and Bill Murray have worked together. I am typically not
a big fan of Anderson’s work, as creative and original as it is; however, Moonrise
Kingdom (which was the opening film of the 2012 Cannes film festival) is his most
endearing yet. Of all the films he has written and directed, this seems more personal.
The year is 1965, three days before a hurricane will hit the small island of New
Penzance in New England. On one corner of the foggy island, we have Scout Master
Ward (Norton), who runs a pretty strict camp of 12-year-old boy scouts. However,
one boy scout is missing. Sam (Gilman), the most unpopular of the boys and also an
orphan, has left a note resigning from the Camp Ivanhoe group. Immediately, Ward
contacts the island police, which is represented by one, the sad Captain Sharp (Willis).
On the other side of the island, young daughter Suzie (Howard) has run away to be
with Sam, leaving her lawyer parents Walt (Murray) and Laura (McDormand) Bishop.
The two kids are madly in love due to their unhappy lives and, with a tent, a record
player and love in their hearts, will do anything to be together.
“We are all they’ve got,” says Laura, laying in a separate bed from her husband,
trying to revive what’s left of their twisted family. “It’s not enough," Walt says
blankly, staring at the ceiling. Anderson has a real knack for creating unhappy characters
who do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. As usual, Anderson’s scripts allow
the audience to find dark humor in the maddening situations of others. In one scene
Murray’s character is so mad that he throws a shoe at Scout Master Ward and the audience
roars with laughter. I enjoyed the adult storyline more than the main focus of the
kids, but at the same time, Anderson writes young people very well.
With all of Anderson’s films, he gives us this type of tour; in Life Aquatic it
was of the elaborate submarine (one of the coolest sequences in that film), with
Tenenbaums it was of the large house encompassing the family, and here it’s of the
Penzance island and the quirky inhabitants. The only actor I felt that was completely
wasted and out of place was Oscar winner Swinton, who does nothing and adds nothing.
McDormand also isn’t used very well, but Anderson’s strong point has never been female
characters. If you know what to expect with Anderson (and you should at this point),
you should be pleased with the film. It's no great masterpiece but it feels like
his most solid work to date, perhaps even worthy of a screenplay nomination.
Final Thought – Anderson best work yet.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
This is an utterly charming movie about children and adults—who are not always in
discrete categories. It shows very clearly how the two worlds function so differently,
yet there is some drifting between the boundaries. Children sometimes sound like
adults, and adults sometimes behave like children. When the stress reaches a certain
level, it is the adults who freak out, and the children go on about their business.
As one parent reflects, “We’re all they’ve got”, to which his wife replies, “It’s
not enough”, following an insightful conversation with her daughter when she realizes
their parenting has been less than desirable.
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, co-writers/directors, know very well how, given sufficient
stress, people sometimes step up to the plate admirably, and then other times are
simply crazy. Nothing sparks anxiety quite like missing children, and that is what
we are dealing with here. Two pre-teens who are rejected by their peers and their
families (one has actually lost his parents) form a band of two to go off on their
own and survive in peace in the woods. They fall into 12-year-old love, and because
they’ve been rejected, are surprised that anyone cares if they run away. Of course,
that is not the case, and they soon have parents, scoutmasters, police, social services,
and even fellow scouts combing the islands for them.
Anderson has created a film with some of his trademark motifs: long tracking shots,
quirky characters whose lines sound a bit odd, extraordinarily fine music by the
talented Alexandre Desplat that draws on Benjamin Britten’s work as well has Hank
Williams’ country music (an odd but creative pairing in itself), and an exceptional
cast in roles that are far from their usual, such as Bruce Willis’ lonely self-effacing
sheriff. All of the actors including Willis (Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances
McDormand, Tilda Swinton) and even the child actors, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward,
Anderson reported in an interview that he wanted to create a storybook/magical quality
to the film, some of which is related to his own childhood, such as performing in
Benjamin Britten’s Noahe’s Fludde, his fantasies of falling in love, and his own
discovery of the pamphlet shown in the film, “The Very Troubled Child”, which he
knew his parents had because of him, not his brothers. Most would agree he achieved
For those who enjoy the fanciful films of Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom is a must-see.