Film: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Cast includes: Edward Norton (The Illusionist), Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Bill Murray (Ghostbusters), Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Frances McDormand (Fargo), Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Jason Schwartzman (The Darjeeling Limited), Bob Balaban (Gosford Park)
Director: Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou)
Genre: Comedy | Light Drama | Romance (94 minutes)
Rainy day, 1965… the boys listen to records on the portable record player while Suzy keeps watch on this fairytale-style world through her binoculars. Suzy doesn’t miss much, including her mom sneaking out to share a smoke with Captain Sharp. On the other side of New Penzance Island, things are shipshape at Camp Ivanhoe. Scout Master Ward is a tough taskmaster. So it’s quite a surprise when one of his Kaki Scouts goes missing. “Where’s Shakusky? Shakusky, you in there? Jiminy Cricket! He flew the coop!” When Scout Master Ward reports Sam Shakusky’s disappearance to Captain Sharp, that’s when we learn about Sam’s “letter of resignation” from the Kaki Scouts. When Captain Sharp notifies Sam’s folks, he’s quite surprised by their response… “We’ve come to a decision. We can’t invite him back.” Yikes! Turns out, Sam’s an orphan. And Social Services has just the right orphanage for his next home.
We learn that Sam and Suzy met last year when Suzy played the raven in a church play. They’ve been pen pals ever since. And when Sam proposed running away together, Suzy said Yes. So Kaki Scouts are deputized to help search for Sam. Meanwhile, Suzy’s parents discover the note she left for her little brother about borrowing the record player. Suzy brings only the essentials… records, record player, extra batteries, kitten, books… “I like the ones with fantasy.” “These are library books,” Sam notices. “They’re all overdue.” Sam wonders if Suzy’s depressed? Suzy shows Sam the booklet her parents tried to hide from her… “Coping with a Very Troubled Child.” Sam’s found his soul mate! “I feel people do not like my personality,” he confesses. In the meantime, the authorities are hot on their trail… as Hurricane Maybelline bears down.
Sam’s a well-trained scout, and Suzy’s more resourceful than her pink dress and the “Sunday school shoes” would suggest. The island is only 16 miles long, so if Suzy and Sam are really going to find happiness, they’ll need help from some unlikely conspirators. Writer/Director Wes Anderson is well known for absurd comedies… a genre with a limited but loyal following. Mainstream audiences, however, often have difficulty caring about the characters when the humor is so offbeat. Moonrise Kingdom overcomes that hurdle. The script is very nicely developed and we actually do care about the characters and what happens to them. It’s also a charming production. A lot depends on the acting… in this case, two talented newcomers playing Sam and Suzy. “I often wish I was an orphan. Most of my favorite characters are orphans. Their lives are so exciting.” “I do love you,” Sam tells Suzy, “but you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
4 popped kernels
Charming, quirky tale of 12-year-old soul mates running away together… on a 16 mile-long island
Audience: Young adults
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: High-end production
Character Development: Engaging