Moonrise Kingdom

Coming of Age Boy Scouts


31 May 2012| No Comments on Moonrise Kingdom     by Sean Chavel


Everything seems to be arranged so that Wes Anderson can create nutty visuals. Moonrise Kingdom has a self-consciously fuzzy feeling, and while some of those 1965-esque visuals look great, much of the movie just sits there. Anderson has made whimsical fantasies come to life before (“Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”), but here he’s just busy putting together cutesy impressionistic shots, laboring to make dorkiness look ironically cool. Set off the coast of New England, Penzance Island evokes a literary dream cooked up by Maurice Sendak or Mark Twain, cinematically brought to life. The cast of boy scouts are up to either etiquette or mischief. Or for the two protagonists, first love.

It’s not like the film will be robbed by Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand or Bill Murray. The adult cast seems to be in it for a lark, or easy work. Murray, for maybe the first time, is just dull. I feel so bad admitting that.

Sam (Jared Gilman), who has no parents, wants to run away with the love of his life Suzy (Kara Hayward). They’re both labeled as troubled youth, but really, they are just misunderstood. Rather dorky, really. But look at the troublesome adults – who do these kids have to look up to? Bruce Willis, doing that rare soft-spoken solitarian thing, is the most masculine influence around. McDormand plays the married woman he’s having an affair with (that will go over most young audience’s heads). Norton is an officious scoutmaster who is so mild he would fit right into the role of bookworm in another Anderson film. The aforementioned Murray is a droop as a self-satisfied intellectual.

The conclusion is enlivened by a severe weather storm that triggers a camp flooding. But, if anything, the last act is a bit more engaging in observing how much these two youngsters are willing to sacrifice for love. Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton”) comes in, as an amusing antagonist, playing a rep for social services who wants to throw Sam into juvenile hall. Anderson knows how to put a heartwarming spin on things, he’s good with happy endings. But for the most part, I was unhappy by the frail story material and mosey pacing of it all.

I like most of Anderson’s films, but even though “Moonrise” has the distinct taste of Ovaltine, this is not to me one of his better films.

93 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “The Major and the Minor” (1942); “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004); “Rocket Science” (2007); Submarine” (2011).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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