Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: contains sexual references
Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp
Edward Norton as Scout Master Randy Ward
Bill Murray as Mr. Bishop
Frances McDormand as Mrs. Bishop
Tilda Swinton as Social Services
Jared Gilman as Sam
Kara Hayward as Suzy
Jason Schwartzman as Cousin Ben
Harvey Keitel as Commander Pierce
Bob Balaban as Narrator
Director: Wes Anderson
Sam (Jared Gilman), a 12-year-old orphan, falls in love with Suzy (Kara Hayward) and the two run away to a secluded cove on an island, prompting the entire town to begin a search.
I remember Moonrise Kingdom as being one of the first movies I saw from Wes Anderson. The first two times I watched it I just thought it was just alright. It was definitely well made and I admired its unique style, it just really wasn’t my thing and that was some years ago. This is the third time I watched the movie, and it’s a lot better than I remember it being, especially having seen all of his movies now.
Moonrise Kingdom is very much a Wes Anderson movie with a Wes Anderson script, it’s quirky, it’s funny, the dialogue is unique and deadpan, and the characters and story are memorable, heartwarming and genuine. With this movie, the story is quite simple, one of Wes Anderson’s most straightforward. Two kids in love run away and the town tries to find them. Moonrise Kingdom is a coming of age movie and is about young love at its core. I was generally entertained over its roughly 90 minute long runtime, though I wasn’t the most invested in the plot, but there’s a lot of passion and hope put into it that I was willing to follow it to the end of the movie. In terms of flaws, the movie can be a bit tonally inconsistent at times. The third act is particularly over the top and a bit overdramatic considering the rest of the movie is pretty lowkey. The pacing is also a little all over the place in the first half, even if it opens pretty well.
The ensemble cast all worked greatly in playing their quirky and memorable characters, including Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel. The two standouts of the cast for me were Bruce Willis and Edward Norton, both of whom are first time collaborators with Wes Anderson. They were both hilarious and fantastic in their roles. The child actors acted pretty well in their parts too (including a young Lucas Hedges), which is good because much of this movie has child characters as a big part of the plot. The two lead characters of the movie are Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, who share great chemistry together. They aren’t amazing but they play well on their parts.
Wes Anderson directs Moonrise Kingdom, and pretty much everything you’d expect from his trademark filmmaking style is here. It’s shot very well and is visually stunning, with bright colours and the familiar shot compositions. If you’ve seen any of Anderson’s other movies, you’ll immediately recognise his style, but he goes for a more simplistic filmmaking style. The visual gags were also very effective. The production and costume designs are great with a lot of attention to detail, and the editing is quintessential Wes Anderson. The soundtrack was well composed by Alexandre Desplat. Additionally, Moonrise Kingdom has Wes Anderson’s lowest budget since his first film Bottle Rocket. Yet with a budget with $16 million, he does quite a lot.
Moonrise Kingdom is very well made and is another quirky and solid movie from Wes Anderson. It’s greatly directed, entertaining to watch, and the cast are all great. It’s not one of his best movies and I would not recommend it as an introduction to Wes Anderson as a filmmaker (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Rushmore would be better first films to watch from him), but I do recommend watching it at some point for sure.