Moonrise Kingdom Review

(L) Kara Hayward as Suzy (R) Jared Gilman as Sam

Wes Anderson’s newest film follows the usual equation, and like his other films, is an acquired taste. Moonrise Kingdom takes place on a small island, called New Penzance, off the coast of New England in 1965. Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphan and a Khaki Scout at Camp Ivanhoe, which is headed by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton). Suzy (Kara Hayward) is a troubled and violent young girl who begins a pen-pal relationship with Sam after meeting him at a church pageant the summer before. They hatch a plan to run off together, and in doing so, they stir up trouble with the adults all around them while a storm of epic proportions approaches the shores of New Penzance.

Bill Murray shows up in yet another Wes Anderson film as lawyer Walt Bishop, Suzy’s father, while Frances McDormand plays his wife, Laura Bishop. Bruce Willis shines as the sort of sad and lonely Island Police officer Captain Sharp. His grandfather glasses and high-water policeman pants only add to the desperation he evokes as he longs for Laura. He teams up with the Bishops, Scout Master Ward and Social Services (Tilda Swinton) to find Sam and Suzy, and hi-jinks ensue.

(L-R) Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Frances McDormand as the adults searching for Sam and Suzy

Sam and Suzy’s relationship has some awkward moments, but what Wes Anderson film doesn’t have some of those? Sam wears glasses and a raccoon cap, while Suzy wears deep blue eye shadow and “Sunday school shoes.” Together, they encapsulate the adolescent insecurity every child grows up through. While the film focuses on their relationship, ironically it’s the scrambled mess between the adults that’s childish.

When Suzy goes missing, Captain Sharp’s relationship with Laura is revealed. While searching for Suzy with Captain Sharp, Walt begins to realize what’s going on. Back at Camp Ivanhoe, Scout Master Ward is punishing himself for losing one of his Khaki Scouts. As the storm grows near and intensifies, so does the search for Sam and Suzy as well as the tension between the adults.

It has to be mentioned that Anderson and Roman Coppola‘s screenplay offers the Khaki Scouts at Camp Ivanhoe plenty of opportunities to steal the show, and they do. The testosterone-driven gang of boys that is at first repulsed by Sam and then eventually teams up to rescue him provides the quirky comic relief Anderson is famous for. Jason Schwartzmann also makes an appearance with his usual sharp wit and snarky dialogue as Cousin Ben, a Scout Master at a neighboring camp.

(Center) Jason Schwartzmann as Cousin Ben with a group of Khaki Scouts

All in all, Moonrise Kingdom delivers as yet another distinct Wes Anderson film. Each frame could be frozen and pass as a picture all on its own, and the obscure soundtrack in the background sets up the unconventional world Wes Anderson always creates specifically for his films. His attention to detail in filming, costume, set design and music as well as a talented cast makes Moonrise Kingdom a great summer movie.

You can catch Moonrise Kingdom in Houston theaters this Friday, June 15th. Click here for other city release dates.

  1. I’ve felt so so about some of Anderson’s past work but left the theater with a much greater respect for the director’s style as a whole. I love the way he handles the characters in this movie, the simultaneously feel down to earth and incredibly quirky and I really enjoyed the deadpan humor throughout the movie. Just curious, how would you rank MK among Anderson’s other movies?

    Anyways if you’re interested feel free to check out my review of this movie, I always love getting feedback from fellow bloggers 🙂

    http://rorschachreviews.com/2012/06/30/moonrise-kingdom-review/

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