Review: “Moonrise Kingdom” is a storybook come to life

October 18th, 2012 at 8:31 am by under Entertainment

Young love… how it can distort reality and make you do brave  and adventurous things… like disobey your parents and runaway!!!   Sure its a bad idea, even if they are your quirky parents Bill Murray and Frances McDormand.

In “Moonrise Kingdom” our young lovers are just 12-years-old so they are clearly in over their heads, but as Wes Anderson weaves this tall tale of romance, comedy, and drama – its clear that the kids may actually have more of life figured out than the adults.

This is rated PG-13 – so its not for young kids!!!

“Moonrise Kingdom” poster courtesy Focus Features

(My spoiler-free review)

Writer/director Wes Anderson once again gives us so much to watch, be entertained by, and think about.

“Moonrise Kingdom” is visually brilliant, like a storybook come to life. The colors are vibrant and the palettes are vivid.  The cinematography is great, the editing is solid, the sets look amazing and the costumes are great.   The soundtrack is perfectly matched – even the use of record player for music in the movie was a nice touch.

While the production elements are all noteworthy, what really stands out here is a fun storyline set in 1965 in a New England island town… and the memorable characters.

Everyone is so quirky and eccentric its great – who’s mom (Frances McDormand) actually uses a megaphone to communicate around the house?  Or an almost melancholy father (Bill Murray) who seems to be walking around in a daze, but could explode with emotions at any moment. There’s also local police captain Bruce Willis has a great understated performance… scout master Edward Norton is solid.  Tilda Swinton commands the screen in a small role and Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel add additional memorable adults to the cast.

Everyone is so small town okee-dokee/matter of fact with their eccentricities.  I also like that the narrator (Bob Balaban) shows up on camera as one of the characters, it was a nice touch.

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in “Moonrise Kingdom” photo courtesy Focus Features

But the real strength of the cast is our young lead characters, if they aren’t solid, then the whole movie falls apart and Anderson got a great  young cast led by Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman – who play 12-year-olds Suzy Bishop and Sam Shakusky.

Suzy and Sam are two misunderstood kids who understand each other and want to grow up too fast.  As much as  the kids may seem different, they are very typical of regular kids – not listening to parents, wanting to be older, typical over reactions, and childlike approaches to adult problems.

The two “outcast” kids are a perfect match because Sam learned a lot about outdoors while at Camp Ivanhoe and Suzy likes adventure stories – escape from reality.  The movie is both serious and tongue-in-cheek, with the adults having just as many problems as the kids.

I actually lost my notes from this movie from when I saw it in theaters back in July.  I didn’t want to rush the review without notes because this movie deserves a full effort.


Anderson hits another homerun with “Moonrise Kingdom”, a movie set on an Island, trapped in time and populated with characters that jump right off the page… I give it 9.0 out of 10 … and I would be shocked if it doesn’t get a least a few Oscar nominations.

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, and Bruce Willis in “Moonrise Kingdom” photo courtesy Focus Features

“Moonrise Kingdom”

(2012) (rated: PG-13 for sexual content and smoking)
(1 hr, 34 min)

Starring: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Kara Hayward, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, Jared Gilman, Bob Balaban, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, L.J. Foley, Eric Chase Anderson, Larry Pine, Jake Ryan

Director: Wes Anderson ["Fantastic Mr. Fox" (2009), "The Darjeeling Limited" (2007), "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (2004),
"The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001), "Rushmore" (1998)]

Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance

The Plot: A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

“Moonrise Kingdom” poster and photos courtesy Focus Features

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