Go find a bottle and a few shot glasses. Drink every time this review contradicts itself and I guarantee you’ll be as sloshed as a college freshman with intimacy issues by the time you reach the bottom of the page. That’s because I’m still not sure what I thought of Moonrise Kingdom. Wes Anderson’s new film feels at once easy and challenging (shot!) simple and multifaceted (shot!) and effortless yet, at times, pandering. (Shot!)
I can, however, tell you how I feel about Moonrise Kingdom: Warm, fuzzy, and a little ashamed of myself. This is all according to Anderson’s design. The film is populated by bumbling, well meaning misfits (portrayed by actors like Bruce Willis and Edward Norton who heroically manage to keep us from thinking of Die Hard or Fight Club for two hours). It’s set in a sleepy New England island community in the 1960s. It’s… It’s fucking, cute, O.K.? That’s what I’m getting at.
Sam Shakusky is a young orphan. Interred in a “khaki scout” camp and shunned by his fellow campers, Sam makes plans with his pen pal and love interest, crooked-eye-mascarara-face, (Suzy Bishop), to run away. The star crossed are, however, as previously stated, on an island. They don’t make it far, and it’s not long before the crack team of camp counselors and parents puts aside their differences to track them down.
Moonrise Kingdom is probably the most Wes Andersony of any Wes Anderson film. It’s set to psychedelic French music and it’s packed with quirky tangents and Bill Murray. Another element that shows in force is the director’s love for fairytails and fables. Moonrise Kingdom lovingly references Peter Pan and Noah and the Ark, children’s stories.
Though Anderson is not exactly breaking new ground, it really is fascinating to see a true auteur applying his particular style to a new template. Those acccusing Moonrise Kingdom of being the logical conclusion of Anderson’s journey from Rushmore to The Life Aquatic will be right, for better or for worse.
It contains one of the best love stories comitted to film in recent memory and some of the most heartbreakingly earnest character work ever performed by Bruce Willis. (I’ll let you work out whether or not that’s a compliment.) So go and see Moonrise Kingdom. Enjoy. This is Anderson’s magnificent magnum opus, and he should be as proud of his achievement as he should be eager to move on. (Shot!)