Moonrise Kingdom Review

You’ll most likely call me a liar for what I’m about to say next, but its true none the less.

I’ve never had a hangover.

Not once.

I’ve thrown my guts up at Goodge Street station due to a less than smart experiment of mixing whisky and port with Guinness.

I drank myself to sleep for an entire month when I just couldn’t turn off some thoughts in my brain.

And I had one hell of a headache the morning after a bad experience with some even worse pot.

But never once have I had a hangover from alcohol, which has led to some deeply unsympathetic reactions to those around me who’re experiencing such trauma.

I just don’t get what the big deal, but I guess that’s my own peculiar superhero power.

Suzy, the young female ingénue of Wes Anderson’s brilliant new film Moonrise Kingdom, also has a secret power; owning a pair of binoculars.

I think it’s fair to say Suzy got stiffed when either God or Stan Lee were doling out super powers in our universe.

Perhaps this is why Suzy is such a very troubled child. In fact, her parents believe she’s so troubled that they’ve even bought a book called How To Cope With Your Very Troubled Child.

I guess you could say that Suzy is a little different from the norm, kind of like Sam actually.

As a skilled yet reluctant member of the North American Khaki Scouts, Sam is an adolescent rebel with a penchant for adventure and some less than fetching thick black glasses.

And it’s on one of his little unscheduled adventures during a high budget school play interpretation of Noah’s Ark that these two like-minded souls meet.

Cast as a raven, of course, Suzy is waiting backstage to play her part when Sam stumbles into her dressing room and peers through her disguise to see something no-one else has.

With their connection to each other affirmed through their subsequent letters, they decide the only sensible thing to do is get married.

If only they weren’t twelve years old.

So our two pre-school lovebirds decide to save their love is to run away to a place where they both belong, but the less than appropriate adults in their respective lives won’t let this happen so easily.

After the quasi animated adventures of Fantastic Mr Fox, Moonrise Kingdom is a return to idiosyncratic type and form for one of Hollywood’s most iconic iconoclasts.

As you may have already twigged, I’m a huge fan of Wes Anderson previous works. Not many are able to consistently and creatively produce films as funny and original as the leftfield writer and director, with the oft jaw dropping ensemble casts he’s able to attract further proof of his unique talents.

Moonrise Kingdom is no different, with Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Ed Norton, Tilda Swinton and Harvey Keitel all in supporting roles, as well as a couple of familiar faces to the Anderson Universe most notably the peerless Bill Murray as Suzy’s troubled father Walt.

Stellar cast indeed, but this time they’re sharing the limelight with some underage talent in the shape of Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman as the two lovebirds Suzy and Sam, as well as a whole gaggle of boy scouts.

Though I guess goggle would be a more appropriate plural term for a collection of these fellows.

As ever with a Wes Anderson film, it’s the little details that make all the difference. There are flights of deliberately poorly executed fantasy for our heroes, some typical Anderson tracking shots from behind the camera and a strongly evocative soundtrack that immerses you wholly in the world of Moonrise Kingdom.

But what separates this from Anderson’s last couple of less satisfying cinematic adventures is his choice of children as the stars of Moonrise Kingdom.

Their acting may be less than convincing at times, especially when they’re in the company of such accomplished adult contemporaries, but the effect of having Anderson’s offbeat dialogue sprout forth from such unlikely and underage sources is a winning formula.

This also frees up the more recognised supporting cast to punctuate this story with more extravagant comic touches, safe in the knowledge that they’re not required to carry the emotional narrative of the film.

So Moonrise Kingdom sees Wes Anderson become reacquainted with his own magic power, namely crafting uniquely different and entertaining stories for us normal folk to enjoy.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

May 2012