Monday, July 16, 2012

Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom

I enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom even though I usually can't stand Wes Anderson films. That being said, I probably would have enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom more if it hadn't been for, you guessed it, Wes Anderson.

Now the Wes Anderson formula is something people either love or hate. I always seem to find myself in the latter. If you've seen one Wes Anderson film, you've basically seen them all. Now I gotta give him credit where credit is due, Anderson has successfully created his own visually striking cinematic universe. Unfortunately his visual style usually overshadows the substance of his films and this is what irks me so much about the director and his latest film, Moonrise Kingdom. I'm not alone here, google "Wes Anderson Formula" and you'll get a bunch of articles from different film sites/blogs that have been bitching about Anderson's beautiful artistic crutch for years.

MFW: DAT Wes Anderson Formula
So without further adieu, here's the Wes Anderson formula:
bright colors
Bill Murray
deadpan/one dimensional characters
spartan use of dialogue
ironic clothes/hair styles
slow motion
rigidly tight and unnatural close up/zoom shots

For better or worse this is what people have come to expect from Wes Anderson films and he doesn't fail to deliver his now trademark brand of quirk/eccentric film making in his latest work.

totally natural. totally believable. totally.
Moonrise Kingdom is the story of two young lovebirds/social outcasts who runway together into the wilderness of a tiny New England island. It's set in 1965 so Anderson's film is writhe with bright retro colors and vintage, everything. We get Bruce Willis and Edward Norton running around in dorky outfits that are not only nostalgic/ironic but almost excusable because of the time period. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand deliver the most phoned in performances of the year (but done so intentionally I'm sure....damn that formula!) and we're subject to more awkward shots and cringe worthy bouts of dialogue.

Now that I'm done bitching, I must say, Moonrise Kingdom's saving grace are it's two child stars, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. They play Sam and Suzy, the island's two social misfits who are too smart/eccentric for their own good. They form an instant bond and won't let little things like geography, family or the half-assed boy scouts stand between them. At first I thought they both were smug/pretentious little jerks and didn't really care for them. When they started roughing it in the woods my attitude changed slightly, but when they get to the beach and start stumbling through the physical and emotional stages of first puppy love, even this bitter old grinch couldn't hate any longer. The stares, the kiss, the goofy fucking dancing. I was sold.
congrats, you saved the movie!
So somewhere, hidden deep down beneath the pomp and pastels, there's a touching story inside Moonrise Kingdom. I have a feeling I'd have enjoyed it more if Anderson's wonderful visual style didn't overpower the narrative, yank me out of the film's reality and make me want to punch myself in the face. Still, a good movie though. No really!

TLDR: Moonrise Kingdom =


  1. Well sounds like with all those actors it has to be good, even though I hate Bill Murray's movies now a days and him too.

  2. Hmm, sounds like a not so great movie. I don't really like people who follow the same formula for every movie. Especially when it's something like that. Even though it has a saving grace or two, a bad movie is a bad movie. I guess.

  3. I always get Wes Anderson mixed up with Paul W Anderson. Imagine a Wes Anderson Resident Evil.

  4. I'd watch it but im not much of a movie person sadly. maybe if its on netflix i might watch it one night

  5. I like Wes Anderson, despite the formula. I really liked Moonrise Kingdom. Yeah it was kitschy and saccharine, but those are the things I liked about it. Then again, you're definitely right: you either like Wes Anderson or hate him.

  6. As someone who isn't a complete movie buff, this is all okay because I've barely seen any of his films to begin with.

  7. bill murray and bruce willis in the same movie... must watch

  8. Great flick and one of my favorites from this year. Whenever Wes Anderson is on his A-game, it's just about perfect, but the last time he was on his A-game was probably a decade ago. Let's hope he keeps this up. Good review Jim.

  9. I'm a Wes Anderson nut face, so I am still alarmed that I haven't seen Moonrise Kingdom yet. I'm actually probably going to repair that tonight. The fact that it made a non-wessie kind of film say, "Ok, this might be alright," makes me think this is going to be one of the best.

  10. I was a little scared that this film mightn't be great because of the Bill Murray factor but it sounds pretty good from your review man, it's making me sorely tempted to check it out now.

  11. I love these kind of quirky films like this. :D

  12. Im curious about how will it turn up

  13. I like Wes Anderson films :P

  14. okay, it's because it's BRUCE :)

  15. I'm kind of a movie snob, but not in the way that I really *know* movies. More just like I don't like sitting through 2 hours of the same storyline. So I'm usually hard pressed to pick a movie I'm willing to see.

    With that said, I think I love Wes Anderson movies. The color saturation, the cuckoo personalities, I love it all. If I could look like that asshole Margot from The Royal Tenenbaums all the time, I totally would.