After much pre-movie smoking and pizza we arrived at the Picturehouse looking forward, as ever, to the new Wes Anderson flick; were we going to get another great like Rushmore or something more troublesome like Life Aquatic, we wondered. In my haste to get the best seats in the house I rushed to the counter and asked for two tickets to Moonrise Kingdom, thus forgetting the rule that we’ve been trying to implement recently where all Bill Murray films must be ordered by asking for “two tickets for the Bill Murray” – and, before you ask, it usually works. Naturally, you can’t just use this technique anywhere, so we generally look for those cinemas that know their shit (and their Bill Murrays from their Bill Pullmans.) Tickets in hand we headed in with appropriate snacks for such a movie; orange chocolate for the lady and fizzy strawberry laces for myself. This didn’t feel like a popcorn movie, and I was to be proved right…
Moonrise Kingdom‘s story revolves around two adolescent misfits Suzy and Sam, I’d say they were about 12 years old, give or take a year. After meeting briefly in a church one evening they kept in contact by writing each other frequently. And, after much corresponding, they hatched a plan to meet up and run away together. That, in short, is the story. Being a Wes Anderson movie we are also treated to lots of supporting characters whose stories flow in and out of the movie. The most significant of these stories is the love triangle between husband and wife Walt and Laura – Bill Murray & Frances McDormand- and Laura’s lover Captain Sharp, Bruce Willis. It beats me why a woman would ever cheat on Bill Murray, but this is the movies so we must suspend our disbelief no matter how strange it may seem! Edward Norton plays a scoutmaster and he probably steals the show with his performance, it’s full of pathos and laughs. We also get great cameos from Jason Schwartzman – whom I always love seeing- Harvey Kietel and Tilda Swinton….On a side note, I sometimes wonder, as I lead a strange little life, if Anderson ever gets jealous when he sees Murray acting in Jim Jarmusch movies. Anderson basically invented the semi-serious acting talents of Murray in Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, but Jarmusch went and stole the best performance, so far, from him in Broken Flowers.
I could easily sum up this review by saying if you’ve liked Wes Anderson movies in the past you will love this, if they’re not your thing then this will do nothing to change your mind. It’s every bit a typical Anderson movie; angsty characters, strange situations, plenty of style, slightly less substance, and, for me, plenty of laughs. If you’ve got a bit of a weird sense of humour, like myself, then I would recommend this without question. It reminds me, in the best way, of Richard Ayoade’s Submarine, but Anderson’s version of 1960s New England is slightly less depressing than Ayoade’s present day painting of Wales. So Moonrise Kingdom is a little less cutting in its humour.
Moonrise Kingdom is an utterly charming film and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s idiosyncratic and, for the majority of the film, it’s the children who take up most of the screentime, so it’s not the kind of movie that will instantly rise to the top of your favourite films list, but don’t let that put you off. It has more than enough charms to keep you happy for an hour-and-a-half.
Marks out of ten – Eight