Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Moonrise Kingdom

I literally changed what the subject of blog #199 half a dozen times. I basically have five other blogs I wanted to do but due to the 200th blog looming I’ve been going crazy with what I should put on before it. I was supposed to do another Kickstarter Weekend a few days ago but I ended scrapping it at the last minute (and I’m not sure I will be able to do it this weekend). Next blog with finally be the big one so hopefully things will get back on a normal schedule afterwards.

If you aren’t familiar with the works of director Wes Anderson then you are missing out. One of the best and unique directors out there Anderson’s movies usually are at the very least entertaining. Among them is The Royal Tenenbaums which is one of my top three favorite films of all time (it changes pretty regularly but it’s often number one). So whenever he makes a new film I usually take notice. Moonrise Kingdom is his latest film and, though it took a little bit of time for it to hit Kalamazoo, I did in fact get to watch it. Is it another hit or has Anderson finally made his first terrible film?

Adventure and romance after the jump.

Adventure, HO!
In 1965 in the New England island of New Penzance Khaki Scout member Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) has gone A.W.O.L. from Camp Ivanhoe. The island’s sole police officer, as well as the rest of the Khaki Scouts, begin an island wide manhunt for the elusive twelve year old. Later it becomes apparent that local girl, Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), has also run away. On top of the general worry of two kids having run away one of the worst storms in New England history will hit New Penzance in just a few days.

This flick is awesome! And that’s kind of a problem. I’m not really sure where to start talking about it, plus I don’t want to go on gushing about how wonderful it is either. I guess we can start by looking at the plot. It’s interesting in that, despite that this is a comedy and that it stars two twelve year olds, the “manhunt” and “star cross lovers” aspect of the film is played completely straight (at least as straight as a Wes Anderson film is capable of being. That is “still really f**king quirky”). This is to the films benefit because Anderson, unlike a lot of other directors out there, is able to completely balance the tone of the plot. It’s at times dark, tense, and romantic but it’s also silly and outlandish at the same time. Despite that it never feels uneven or forced. It’s just a really fun story about two kids in love who run away together. I tend to judge a plot extremely favorably if it manages to make me fight back tears when it ends. I call it “The Pixar Factor”.

The characters are great. Child actors are so hit or miss (let’s face it; it’s usually miss) so it was a great relief that Gilman and Hayward are exceptional in their roles. In fact apparently Gilman studied canoeing, cooking over a fire, and the movie Escape from Alcatraz in preparation for this role. What?! Dude, you’re twelve! Anyway they both do a good job and I’m hopeful that we haven’t seen the last of them. As for the supporting cast it’s a pretty damn impressive ensemble. We’ve got Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, and Bruce Willis and it’s all pretty amazing. Ed Norton has been in a lot of my favorite movies (Death to Smoochy, American History X, Fight Club) and he once again brings his A-Game. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Bruce Willis do better, though I’m much more certain I’ve never seen him better in a comedy. The characters are, just like any other Anderson film, quirky and likable and it’s hard not to love them. Sam and Suzy are obviously the ones that hold it together and I just loved just about everything about them, even the tiny details. Their interplay with each other had me laughing out loud all throughout the film…even when no one else in the theater was. Awkward. But yeah, they were great; young outcasts that find solace with each other. And also funny. The rest of the characters all have their good points and little bits that make them interesting and memorable. Even Social Services.

Great supporting cast..or greatest supporting cast?
The film looks unique. It’s retro appearance in key parts, its camera work, the Benjamin Britten soundtrack, the narrator who is actually just a dude talking to the camera; everything together makes this film different than everything else in the theaters right now and it feels free of pretension and cliché. And with all the action summer films I’ve been watching Moonrise Kingdom is like going on a damn vacation. The script is clever and funny. If that alone doesn’t get the Oscar nod there is something seriously wrong with our society. Aside from that there are just a ton of little subtle details that I thought made this film something special rather just another summer movie; too many to get into here, sadly. So those were the film’s good points, how about the negatives?

Oh right. There is absolutely nothing I disliked about this film. At all. As far as I’m concerned this flick is flawless. The only other movie I’ve reviewed that I could say that about was Castle in the Sky.

I thought this film was fantastic. Moonrise Kingdom isn’t simply my new favorite Wes Anderson movie, it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s fun, it’s hilarious, it’s sweet, it can get a bit sad and it never screws up the blend. This is easily, easily the best movie I’ve seen this year thus far (Avengers being a very distant second). So good this flick that I’m not sure anything else can possibly top it, even though Oscar Season is just a few months away. If you haven’t seen this movie yet you need to drop what you’re doing and track it down. If it’s not in theaters anymore then do what you can to make sure you rent it as soon as it comes out. 

A thin line between love and war. Or whatever

Moonrise Kingdom gets 5 out of 5 Adorable Pandas. If I could score it higher I would. 


-Great cast and characters 

-Great script 

-Very unique 

-Sweet, funny, and quirky; basically the perfect combination 


-Not a goddamn one

Don’t forget; the next post will my 200th blog. And, just like the 100th blog, it’s going to be about Spider-Man.

...and this is pretty much my reaction to the next blog

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