Sunday, December 2, 2012

Review 104: "Moonrise Kingdom"

Ah, childhood.
I remember when I ran away from home with a girl, got
struck by lightning and then got saved by Bruce Willis.
Good times.

    Moonrise Kingdom follows young Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), who a growing up in 1960s New England (Aren't we all?), who decide after a chance meeting that they are in love and plan to run off together. Upon doing so, the entire community is thrown into a tailspin, with a search party for the children dangerously overlapping with an impending hurricane. Leading the search is Police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and Sam's scout master Ward (Edward Norton), who along the way gain the help of Suzy's mother (Frances McDormand) and father (Bill Murray) and a social services worker (Tilda Swinton), assigned to Sam's case. As the search continues on, the community unravels more and more.
    Moonrise Kingdom is a beautiful movie, in more ways than the obvious.Most obviously, visually the film is stunning. Directed by Wes Anderson, the film creates a fantasy world in which the relatively simple love story plays out. The picturesque world matches perfectly with the tone of the film and even if you don't enjoy the film itself, the visuals will no doubt entertain. However, that ever is a concern, as the film's central love story is so good, you will never get bored.

Edward Norton stars in Camp Hulk.
    In their first roles, Gilman and Hayward delivers a pair of superb performances, making one of the most believable and charming romances of the year. Sam and Suzy are two kids who think they've got it all figured out, amusingly thinking they are adults when really they are more kids pretending. Their plan is nothing more than "Enter woods, live together forever" and they comically make excuses when the plan doesn't go as planned. But what makes the story work so well is how earnestly the two play their roles. There isn't an ironic bone in these kids bodies and they clearly believe everything they say. I got more invested in their romance then any other one this year, and this year has had some pretty good romances.
    The rest of the cast is of course bringing their A-game. Murray hilariously plays the father that would rather call himself a sad-sack than actually try to do something and he often delivers the best lines in the movie, even if he doesn't get a whole lot of screentime. The other scouts also are entertaining, playing up survivalist macho man attitudes the the real-life Boy Scouts used to represent. But, by far Willis and Norton steal the supporting cast show. Willis is great, playing a cop that isn't that great a cop, but is a really good guy. He's the one that gets taken for a wild ride and grows the most out of it. As for Norton, he plays a scout master/part-time teacher take loves being a scout master more than anything and finds himself and his passion called into question after "losing" Sam. The character is great and Norton does such a good job that an award or two may be in his future.

You see that? That's called color.
    Moonrise Kingdom is easily one of the best movies of the year. Director Anderson creates a wonderful world in which an honestly sweet love story unfolds. The cast is fantastic, with great first-time performances by Gilman and Hayward. Moonrise Kingdom takes itself so seriously and is so convinced in what it's saying that it's hard not to become convinced as well. Moonrise Kingdom gets 6 stars out of 6.

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