Moonrise Kingdom directed by Wes Anderson; written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (Focus Features, Indian Paintbrush, American Empirical Pictures, Moonrise, PG-13, 94 minutes)
Starring Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman.
The Pains of Growing Up
Did you ever try and run away as a kid? It might have been to the end of the street, to a friend’s house, or maybe even farther. Why did you do it? Oppressive parents? An untenable friendship? A bad test at school? Often irrational, this escape can sometimes result from not wanting to grow up. When a child shoulders more responsibility, sometimes it seems easier to flee hoping to return to the days where playtime occurred 24/7.
Along these lines arises Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.
In 1965 on a diminutive island in New England, Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) run away together.
An orphan attending Khaki Scout summer camp, Sam escapes the campground after leaving a letter of resignation with Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton). Sam is an outcast and the rest of the troop shudders at the thought of searching for him.
Suzy met Sam a summer before when she acted in a church performance of Noye’s Fludde. Having been pen pals since that day, the two plan withdrawal together. Suzy flees because she cares little for her dysfunctional parents, Walt (Bill Murray) and Laura (Frances McDormand).
With both young teenagers missing, Scout Master Ward, Walt, and Laura partner with local Island police officer, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) to commence a search.
A Desperate Search Party
While Suzy and Sam traverse the island in pursuit of refuge, the search party learns harrowing news: Sam’s foster parents want nothing to do with him. With an orphaned and un-guardianed child on the loose, the search party notifies Social Services (Tilda Swinton). Given Sam’s flight risk, Social Services announces intentions of subjecting Sam to electro-shock therapy.
Moreover, a hurricane approaches this sleepy isle.
With such grim news, the search party not only needs to find the run-aways before the storm surges, but they also need to ascertain a guardian promptly to keep Sam out of the mental ward.
An Ochre Hue
Moonrise Kingdom holds all the signature styles of a Wes Anderson movie. For starters, an ochre hue emanates throughout the film. Aesthetically, the palette screams summer and warmth.
Additionally, Anderson’s sharp, witty, and ironic dialogue shines. Bill Murray holds some excellent lines, including a deadpanned scene where he intones his intentions to cut down a tree.
Even more, Wes Anderson continues to depict humor through ironic subtlety. During one scene where Scout Master Ward’s Khaki Scouts are hiding behind a fence, a stranger walks behind them wearing a Native American headdress. The audience, then, finds humor in the juxtaposition. We are under the impression that the Scouts are hidden, yet a meandering stranger breaks the wall of belief around this task of espionage.
Setting aside Wes Anderson’s brand stylings, Moonrise Kingdom explores the motif of growing up. In particular, Khaki Scout summer camp is a regimented boot camp—much more adult than a child should experience.
To a certain extent, Sam and Suzy escape to remain children. Throughout the narrative, Wes Anderson masterfully weaves the tension between growing up and remaining a child.
If you are a fan of Wes Anderson or quirky feel-good movies, go see Moonrise Kingdom.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5