Moonrise Kingdom takes place in the sweeter and more innocent days of yesteryear where Anderson has built a small community which could almost be an offshoot of a Norman Rockwell painting. In this story, two 12 year old misfits fall in “love” and run away together… on an island. And as such, sends all those who are part of their lives out searching for them.
Moonrise Kingdom is a very good movie. It has just the right proportions of sweetness, deviousness, and, best of all, humour. There were a lot of great running gags in this film which I highly appreciated, especially the ridiculously high treehouse and the embodiment of social services by a single character called Social Services.
The story of the two kinds trying to find some happiness in their lives with each other was really well done. Anderson doesn’t treat these kids the way children of this age are usually handled, which is usually by completely ignoring their complexities altogether. Anderson gives these kids hopes and desires like any 12 year old has and does so in a way that is verging on risque but also in a way which focuses on the truth in these characters.
The performances in this movie are spotty throughout the cast. Ed Norton and Bruce Willis provide a lot of intrigue in the way that they don’t really seem to fit Anderson’s style, but the clashes still really work well. However, Bill Murray is completely wasted in the film, and the actor who plays Sam (Jared Gilman) has some odd line deliveries. I mean, its hard to expect much from a kid actor, but it was noticeable. Kara Hayward, who played Suzy, felt much more authentic. Also, Bob Ballaban’s oddball narration was spot on.
You know, I really enjoyed this film, but it did get me thinking about Anderson’s filmography. And I’ve come to the conclusion that Anderson is likely never going to make a truly great picture. He is able to make really good movies, enjoyable movies, but that is all. His style restricts him too much. He only works within the constraints of his very distinctive camera framing and his stoic performances and deadpan humour, and it can only take him so far. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I think its worth mentioning, since that thought process was certainly a byproduct of my viewing of this film. With that side however, I do believe that Moonrise Kingdom may be the closest he’s gotten.