Let it be known that before walking into "Moonrise Kingdom" I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I had never read any plot details and had never even watched a single glimpse of the trailer. All I knew was that the film was receiving glorious reviews and that the less I knew, the better. For starters, this is definitely a movie that isn't for everyone. There were quite a few scenes in the film that I could tell made a lot of people in the audience feel awkward, but what else can one expect from a passionate romance between two young teens? Other than the wonderful performances given by the all-star cast, there isn't much to love about "Moonrise Kingdom" other than that, the glorious set-designs, and the two protagonists. The romance between the two young children can be looked at as the film's strongest element but the things that happen around that plot are what bothered me. There is no doubt in my mind that this is an enjoyable film, but by all means it is far from a great one.
The film tells the story of two young lovers who flee from their New England town. It isn't revealed right away why but you get the idea that both the boy and girl have had difficult lives back home. The disappearance of the two children puts the townspeople in shock. A police captain, a scout master, and the girl's parents work together to find the children. One thing about the film that I didn't care for was a scene that let off that the police captain had slept with the the young girl's mother. The two are worried at first and want to keep it a secret from the father but after that the conversation is never brought up again. What is the point of this? Why even add this into the story? It did nothing to help character development and the film never even goes anywhere with it. I enjoyed Anderson's quirky dialogue from start to finish but some things said in the film were mostly just unnecessary.
The character development of the two children, Suzy and Sam, was done very well. Sam's character is a hoot and he was wonderful to watch from the moment he first appeared on the screen. He loves Suzy and is willing to do whatever to stay with her. I was fascinated by how Anderson was able to capture this young-love on screen so perfectly. My only complaint was Suzy's character. The young female-actor, played by Kara Hayward, does an excellent job playing the role but it was the character itself that I wasn't the biggest fan of. I may have been subjected to root for the relationship of Sam and Suzy but that was only because I knew Sam loved her. Anderson's strange intentions with this character are never really explained in full. It's not a mystery why this young girl has her problems, but it's never explained why she has rage-issues either. These little things in the film are most of the complications I had with "Moonrise Kingdom". The characters are different and enjoyable, yes, but some of the development Anderson was aiming for needed either more closure or more explanation.
Every performance here is done to the max. With actors like Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and more, "Moonrise Kingdom" carries a cast to remember. Out of the bunch (of adults) Edward Norton certainly delivers the best performance. His character serves some of the best scenes with his boy-scout tribe that'll have you in cramps from laughter. Bruce Willis is also very good here. The scenes he shares with Sam definitely bring us to a more dramatic-side of Wes Anderson's quirky comedy-drama. As for Bill Murray and Frances McDormand, as much as I like them, well, they just sort of yell a lot here and aren't anything too special. It;s still always a treat to see Murray on the big-screen though. The winning performance of the film is from Jared Gilman who plays Sam. This young actor is no doubt going to come out swinging after the success of this movie. His performance is almost flawless and his character's cutesy dialogue will no doubt win the heart of every member in the audience. If this film has any replay-value it'll be to see his performance one more time.
Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" isn't the best of the year but it's artsy direction and tone are things to definitely praise. "Moonrise Kingdom" is one of those films that I enjoyed a good seventy percent of the time. The snappy dialogue and the quirky humor works wonders here but a lot of the character development needed more than what we were given. If not for the wonderful cast and performances this definitely wouldn't have gone down as well as it did for me. Despite a couple of missing elements that "Moonrise Kingdom" could have used, it's still a very enjoyable, quiet film that one can enjoy in the comfort of their own home whenever the film is released on DVD/Blu-Ray. It's going to take a lot for Wes Anderson to top "The Fantastic Mr. Fox". Good luck to him indeed.
Thanks for the read!
-Written by Corey Wood