Sunday, June 3, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom


In Moonrise Kingdom, a young, precocious, humorously idealistic boy, escapes from his Scout camp in order to run away with a young, precocious, humorously idealistic girl. The time is 1965, the land is a small New England island, the tone is suitably Wes Anderson. From opening frame to final shutter, Moonrise Kingdom is laced with the best that Anderson has to offer. Snappy dialogue, naïve romance, warm hues, and a colorful cast of characters all help make the film a mostly enjoyable addition to the mostly perfect resume of Wes Anderson.

Mostly.


To explain. Moonrise Kingdom, like all of Anderson’s films, relies heavily on style and story to entertain its audience. And everything that makes a Wes Anderson film is on full display here, so no worry for fans looking to see our contemporary auteur flex his skill. But what’s missing is overall substance. There’s simply not a whole hell of a lot to it, which is, more often than not, the go-to ammunition for Anderson’s biggest skeptics. A lot of people claim that they don’t “get” Anderson’s films, or that his movies are all glamour, no heart. While I disagree, watching Moonrise Kingdom I can’t help but slowly shift my way over to their side. Much like The Life Aquatic, I want to like Moonrise Kingdom so badly, but there’s nothing yearning for my attention. Or memory.
The film begins after Sam (Jared Gilman) has already started his secret journey, and when he soon meets up with Suzy (Kara Hayward), the film proceeds to cross cut between their amusing trek, to the search party trying to find them. Among the searchers are Suzy’s combative parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), Sam’s scout leader (Edward Norton), the Capitan of the police force (Bruce Willis), and Sam’s fellow scouts. The whole ordeal is narrated by the terrific Bob Balaban, who frequently engages us with historical banter concerning the island, all while breaking the fourth wall.

And that’s pretty much it. Sam and Suzy walk, set up camp, sleep. The others search, argue and search some more. Wild events come into play, screaming matches are fought, and so it is and so it goes. If I seem to be skimping on details, it’s not for lack of trying. But really, very early on in Moonrise Kingdom, I found myself completely disinterested in what I was watching. I didn’t care about the characters or what happened to them, I was utterly bored, waiting for some funny line of dialogue or mesmerizing camera movement to arouse my creativity (which, fair being fair, did happen a number of times).

To be honest, reviews for films that I am genuinely apathetic toward are always the most to write challenging. I have nothing profound to say, because I witnessed nothing profound. To summarize: if you like Wes Anderson (which I certainly do), then you will absolutely enjoy aspects of Moonrise Kingdom. But, if you like Wes Anderson, then you very well may find yourself being disappointed by it too. B-

15 comments:

  1. Aw, I'm sorry it wasn't what you could have hoped for. I'm not very familiar with Andersons work personally (may have to marathon a few of his films before Moonrise Kingdom comes out here - which isn't until August unless I get to see it at the Melbourne International Film Festival :( )

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    1. I'd definitely recommend checking out a few (or all) of his flicks before this one. He really is a fine director, with an incredibly unique vision. But yeah, Moonrise just split me - I want to like it, but there's nothing really trying to convince me.

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  2. I just wrote about it myself, before I read yours. I just don't think he was really trying to make anything profound. Just seems like a simple, light-hearted comedy. There's not much to it, no, but eh, I enjoyed it for what it was.

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    1. And I'd completely agree with you. As a light hearted comedy, it was very effective. As a Wes Anderson film, it was not. And I know how unfair that is - every film deserves to be judged as its own film, but I can't help myself. Ahhh, but really, there's nothing wrong with it.

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  3. I do get where you're coming from with the overall lack of substance, but I must disagree with you and say that I did have fun watching it and for me, at least, not being more in-depth or having a greater purpose or reason was fine. Maybe that's what he was aiming for- sometimes, you don't need extra layers for a character or a story in order for it to be entertaining or interesting. I personally loved it and I hope you don't mind me saying this, but maybe you are seeing or trying to see too much where you shouldn't. Or maybe I'm just easier to convince and entertain...who knows? I'm sorry you didn't like it as much as I did!

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    1. No I don't mind you saying that at all, because to a certain degree, you're right. I can definitely have fun with a movie (that 3D Piranha from a few years ago, for instance, was a blast), but it is my fault that I went into Moonrise "expecting" more, or at least expecting the Wes Anderson I love. He went for something different, something very very light hearted, and once I settled into that, I just could not get into the thing.

      A Wes Anderson film or not, I just thought it was overall... weak. I dunno, I really was surprised. Ah well.

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  4. I really like Anderson's style, the vivid colors, the perfect compositions in the frames, but I have to say I am one of those people who never get moved or affected by his films. I still enjoy them, though.

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    1. That's exactly how I felt about this one. I can definitely appreciate it, but it had virtually no effect on me. Oh well... still nice to look at!

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  5. I found this to be a very effective movie, not only visually, but thematically as well. While the children are fighting off the views of society, the adults are fighting off inner demons, battling with lost pasts and even more foreboding futures. The movie told me that life can get crappy and you need to revel in the brilliance of being young, and innocent and in love before time tries to reclaim it.

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    1. Sounds like you got a lot from it, which is perfect. I truly think movies speak to different people in different ways, and the fact that you found this one so insightful is really cool. It didn't have quite the effect on me as it had on you, but it's all good, we like what we like!

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  6. The most Wes Anderson-ish film Wes Anderson has ever made, 'Moonrise Kingdom' won't convert any naysayers to the cause, but fans of his work will have a ball.

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  7. At the beginning it's a little boring but more you watch it more intresting it becomes so on a second watch it's better.

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    1. I should go back and give this one a rewatch. I've only seen it once.

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