It has been three years since Wes Anderson released Fantastic Mr. Fox and five since The Darjeeling Limited, his most recent live action movie. I wasn’t too pleased with how similar The Darjeeling Limited was to Anderson’s earlier works and I wasn’t sure how Moonrise Kingdom would fair with many of Anderson’s usual suspects (Bill Murray, Jason Schwarzman) back for another go around. Fortunately, Moonrise Kingdom broke the traditional mold.
Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two 12 year olds who fall in love and run away together. The film is set in the 1960s. Sam (brilliantly played by Jared Gilman) is an orphan who runs away from his Boy Scout camp along with Suzy (played by Kara Hayward), a young girl with issues. The film takes place on the fictional New Penzance, an island in New England. While the film stars the two young actors, the supporting cast boasts the star power of Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and the aforementioned Murray and Schwazman.
The characters of Moonrise Kingdom are packed with the usual idiosyncrasies that you would expect to find in a Wes Anderson film. The dialogue is quirky and the settings look like they came from the 1600s instead of the 1960s. Anderson’s films rarely mirror reality and Moonrise Kingdom is no exception.
The film differentiates itself from Anderson’s other movies with the charm of its leads. The young stars handle Anderson’s quirky script quite well and they act with maturity that extends well beyond their years. Anderson gives them plenty of opportunities to shine, despite the presence of established actors such as Willis, Murray, and Norton.
Fans of Anderson’s work will love Moonrise Kingdom. It’s easily his best work since The Royal Tenebaums. Moonrise Kingdom showed that Anderson could make a film that was quirky while still being heartfelt and genuine at the same time.