Moonrise Kingdom Movie Review
Reviewed by Ian Forbes, Sobering Conclusion
In an attempt to help readers know where I’m coming from, let’s just say that I’m not one who worships at the altar of Wes Anderson. Rushmore is fine and I liked The Life Aquatic. The list ends there. I believe he’s a talented writer/director but the deadpan, dry wit delivery style asked of the actors just doesn’t suit my own tastes.
As such, the overall result for me of watching his latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, was an unmitigated “meh”. The story takes place in the mid 1960s on a small New England island and centers around two love-struck 12-year olds who conspire to run away together – both wanting to leave their respective home situations. Following their escape, the adults and a troop of scouts attempt to retrieve the pair. There’s a sweetness to the love story between the kids and the movie is at its best when they are playing house with one another, utilizing the innocence of youth effectively.
The problem here is the adults. There is little to no development for any of them and their involvement seems more like Anderson forcing his hand, making sure to include regulars of his films like Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman while also bringing in Tilda Swinton, Ed Norton, and Frances McDormand. They stumble and bicker and often deliver lines with the smallest amount of facial expression, as is the norm for Anderson’s work.
The production design is fun, as instead of evoking past periods in Americana and calling it modern day, setting this squarely in the ‘60s allows those touches to feel less like hipsterism. The costuming goes hand in hand with this and completes the quality aesthetic. Alexandre Desplat returns after working with Anderson on Fantastic Mr. Fox and delivers the kind of music one would expect in a project like this; lacking grand, sweeping compositions and instead going for all out quirkiness which is apropos given the filmmaker.
Regarding compliments not needing so many qualifying remarks, the kids are all great, though they too are asked to paint expressionless masks on their faces. Scenes devoid of adult interaction are engaging and charming. It’s as if Anderson was split on what the focus of the story was, and only casually attempted to flesh out the adults’ side of events. The telltale daddy issues apparent in each of his movies are here but aren’t as prominent as usual.
I would imagine hardcore fans of the director will be going to Moonrise Kingdomno matter what, though I’d say to temper expectations for comedy and expect more of a coming-of-age tale. Should you be only a casual fan or on the fence, this is easily a movie that can wait for the home market, or maybe not at all depending on your level of enjoyment to Anderson’s previous work.
Moonrise Kingdom is rated PG-13 for sexual content and smoking.