Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton
Running Time: 94 minutes
Extras: A Look Inside Moonrise Kingdom, Welcome To The Island Of New Penzeance, Set Tour With Bill Murray
There are two types of people in this world: those who get Wes Anderson, and those who don’t… well, maybe they don’t want to get him, so there are technically three types of people. MOONRISE KINGDOM – Anderson’s seventh feature – is probably his most accessible work to date; however, it still won’t convince his detractors. Centred around a budding romance between Scout Sam (Gilman), and misfit Suzy (Hayward) it has all the hallmarks of an Anderson picture: beautiful, self contained sets, side scrolling camera work, and Bill Murray. But what it has larger than any of his previous work is a massive heart. Suzy and Sam are characters we can relate to: Sam the Scout is disliked by the members of his troop, and Suzy has no friends to speak of and anger management issues. At 12-13 Suzy and Sam garner empathy as most will have experienced the self doubt and character traits on show. Previous Anderson efforts, though wonderful, have struggled to engage emotionally because of the distance between the viewer and the characters. Here they are close enough to touch.
With scripting as clever and quirky as anything out there, Wes Anderson and part-time collaborator Roman Coppola have always been able to attract big name actors into the group. MOONRISE KINGDOM is no different, with Edward Norton, and Bruce Willis enjoying themselves no end as the hapless Scout Leader and Island Cop respectively. Of course, his regulars are here too: the aforementioned Murray as Suzy’s father Walt, and Jason Schwartzman as the crazy Cousin Ben are both tremendous and at ease in front of Anderson’s camera. The film falls slightly where all of Anderson’s films falter, the second act. In his previous features there is a feeling he is milking the story, or maybe throwing one too many strands into proceedings. In MOONRISE KINGDOM it’s an affair between two characters that adds nothing and detracts from the real story – the child runaways. This is a minor quibble though, and it doesn’t derail the film. The final act sees Anderson put his political head on with the addition of Social Services (Swinton), and a second Scout troop running a military operation to track down the runaways. The military part might be a tad too in-your-face, but then subtlety isn’t Anderson’s strong point.
MOONRISE KINGDOM is another great piece of work from the director. It isn’t as strong as THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS but sits comfortably next to THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU and THE DARJEELING LIMITED. It won’t win him any new fans but purists can rejoice at nearly everything on show.
Extras: Inside Moonrise Kingdom is a far too brief look at the making or the movie. A real pity as a proper making of would have been brilliant. Welcome To The Island Of New Penzeance are individual featurettes on the main characters presented by The Narrator, Bob Balaban. Very quirky and fun they are well worth your time. Previously released on You Tube the set tour is a trip into the land of Bill Murray and is funny as hell.
MOONRISE KINGDOM is released on Blu-ray and DVD 1st October and is available here