Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson) 2012

Once again I will launch into a tangent because at the moment one of the most difficult things in the world to me at the moment is writing a review of a Wes Anderson movie.  There is a reason why I have shied away from writing a review as of yet.  It is because I can’t really think of how to describe one without using the word “quirky“ about 50,000 times.  Normally I can liken a directors work to something else like “If you like these movies then you will probably like this director’s stuff too.“  But Wes Anderson has a style of his own that the best I can say is watch Rushmore.  If you like that then you will like his quirkier stuff.

I’ve also been down on Anderson as of Darjeeling Limited. To me he’s been suffering from the same problem I’ve had with Tim Burton.  Both have been locked into their quirky comfort zone and are stagnating making same movie after same movie.  At around the time of Darjeeling I just about swore off his films because that one felt so lazy and like Anderson was sleep walking through it.  But my swearing off Anderson’s films didn’t last too long.  Maybe I needed some levity after being pissed off by Prometheus.  I came into the trailer wanting to hate on it and by the end I let out an exasperated groan and said “Goddammit, I got to go see it now.“

The story is about Sam who runs away from his Scout Troop and Suzy who runs away from her home.  They met a year earlier and fell for each other and they ran away to spend time together.  The kids are being tracked down by the troop leader (Edward Norton), the town police officer (Bruce Willis) and Suzy’s parents (played by Frances McDormand and Bill Murray).

So how is Moonrise Kingdom you may or may not ask?  Well, it’s quirky.  Really I think Anderson’s gone past 11 on the quirk and has gone to plaid.  I’m sorry if its repetitive but I’m really at a loss for words.  I can’t even say there are many crafted jokes and much of the humor is about seeing these goofy characters in this oddball world.

If there was something I felt was missing from this one as opposed to Anderson’s other films was a clear plot.  Don’t get me wrong, Anderson’s films are not complex stories but are simple framework for getting characters together.  In Life Aquatic, it doesn’t really matter what Steve is doing, but at least we have a clear goal and an end point.  In Moonrise Kingdom I was appreciating the characters and the humor but for the longest time I was asking where this was going.  After the kids escape you are left wondering “what’s next?“.  Because of that the pacing was a little more meandering than the other movies.

The best thing I can say is this movie worked for me despite my mood going into it.  The kids are charming as all hell and the quirky (there I go again) tone matches the story.  This is like a fantasy about these kids having an adventure and the tone feels like the kids are making the world out of their imagination.  So the nature of the story compliments the tone.

Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman do a good job as they have the formula down pat at this point.  Edward Norton was very funny as the straight arrow troop leader who leads his troop like a military camp.  If there was a weakest link it is unfortunately Bruce Willis which is disappointing as I really wanted a funny role from him.  He doesn’t seem to have a grasp on the humor that everyone else is doing and comes off looking confused.  It is that same bored performance you expect from his bad action flicks like Hostage.  Everytime he was on screen I wanted to slap him and scream “Snap out of it!“

I’m not sure how much a recommendation will do for this movie.  If you are a Wes Anderson fan you will already be seeing it and if you are not then I doubt this will win you over.  I came in wanting to dislike it but in the end I was won over so I guess there’s that.  If I were to rank this among Anderson’s other works it would probably be under Life Aquatic, Tenenbaums, and Rushmore.  It’s cute, but doesn’t have enough to measure up compared to his best work.

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