Director Wes Anderson’s latest is exactly what this viewer expected: a hip, star-studded affair that is often a joy to behold, but inevitably comes up rather short in the depth department. Set in an idyllic 1965 that’s recreated in painstaking detail through the filter of a modern admirer, Moonrise Kingdom is a vintage fairy tale concerning a young (pre-teen young) couple in love: Sam, an orphaned Khaki Scout, and Suzy, a troubled ye ye fan. They live on an imaginary island, read imaginary fantasy novels, and travel through the landscape on imaginary maps. They met a year ago during a local performance of an artsy Noah’s Ark-like play (read The New Yorker‘s print review for an explanation of that), became quick penpals, and are now traversing the wooded terrain on a quest towards an angsty happiness. They’re pursued by Suzy’s quarrelsome parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), Sam’s by-the-book scoutmaster (Edward Norton), and the local heartsick police chief (Bruce Willis). Bob Balaban also appears as the New England-dressed narrator, a character that allows Anderson plenty of room for jump cut-endorsing sequences of establishment. There is, of course, a delightful quirkiness to it all that will surely turn off some filmgoers, odds are you’ll get what you expect: long tracking shots of figures standing in straight lines, well-composed static shots, and a distinctive use of distinctive fonts. There are a few surprising moments of cartoon-like comedy that are endearing in their goofiness, and there’s a lovely bittersweetness to the unashamedly predictable ending…it’s all so cute and harmless that it’s difficult to complain.
Moonrise Kingdom opens today at the Ritz East.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.