Running Time: 94 minutes
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
Two young kids run away to discover love and each other.
It is the curse of director Wes Anderson’s fan base to keep recommending his films to the masses. They find his films both poignant and touching and don’t understand how people don’t like his movies. It is the curse of the masses to hate on Wes Anderson films for they don’t understand the appeal of his dysfunctional characters and unfunny story lines. The masses don’t connect and even remotely see what Anderson is trying to convey. Neither side is wrong but both have to realize you either like Anderson’s films or you don’t it is just that simple. I am one of the masses as I have never liked even one of his movies and this film is no different. Moonrise Kingdom is the story of two kids who leave home to discover their budding love for each other. This gets the local populace up in arms as they form search parties to find the runaway kids.
I will try my best not to pan this film as I never really connected with it on any level. I didn’t hate it and at times I found it touchingly simple but for the most part it befuddled me. The film starts and quickly you will notice the interesting camera work as it changes from scene to scene. While it is great to see Anderson thinking outside the mainstream I also felt it added an unnecessary quirkiness to the film. Also like all his films it looked like once the film was done someone applied the Instagram app to it to make it look old fashioned. I find the films tints and hues depressing in nature causing the casual viewer to be duped into being bored. We get introduced to the lead kid character Sam as he has just escaped from the local scout camp. From there the film introduces his love interest Suzy and the two of them get lost in the woods together. This is where the film works best I felt. The two of them are both robotic and socially inept and embark on a pretty touching story of young love. Things like piercing Suzy ears with fish hooks and dancing awkwardly to a record player speak volumes louder than words. If the film continued on that path of self discovery it would have worked but it was not to be. The films humor mostly flows by not undetected by me just merely unappreciated. A tree house in a super tall tree, a written name on a turtle thrown back into the water, and an armed standoff between Sam and his scout troop goes by and illicits little reaction from me.
I normally hate child actors but they stole the show for me in this movie. Sam played by Jared Gilman and Suzy played by Kara Hayward are great as social outcasts discovering each other. They are great individually but shine when interacting with each other. Their odd and quirky deliveries coupled with overly adult thoughts and dialogue makes this film easy to watch when it is just the two of them. The scout troop is funny but the rest of the cast is a bunch of strange characters usually found in Anderson’s films. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton fill out a very impressive ensemble cast. They are all decent in their given roles but their characters failed with me across the board. Characters speak with megaphones for no reason, the scout master takes his job too seriously, and the social worker is called the social worker. Too much strange and not enough background development seriously hampered this film when the two kids were not on screen.
About halfway through this film I felt it totally breaks apart and loses all cohesion. The two kids run from the adults with the help of some locals and what follows can only be described as flawed. Some people might like the absurd notion of scouts running their organization like an army camp. Some people might even like the in your face emo characters. It is just not something I can recommend. Little things impressed me with this film though. Like a scout carrying a nail bat. Or a private talk between Sam and Suzy that sees a kid hilariously jumping on a trampoline next to them. Moments like that gave this film little reprieves from some of the drudgery but not much. If I had to sum up this film it would be the first half worked the second half failed.
Director Wes Anderson knows his audience and so I am sure he won’t lose any sleep over me critiquing his work. I just find he is trying too hard to be different. A perfect analogy is he is a hipster in the Hollywood scene and while some people will love him most will just not understand. He uses too many strange and depressing characters with too many flaws. His comedic styling and delivery is also shaky and most of the film comes off as random. What I will say is this might be my favorite film of his so I can only imagine that this will be gold with his fans.
Not only can I not recommend this film I don’t understand the appeal.
T Factor + If you like Wes Anderson as a director then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like indie films than this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums