Customer Reviews: Moonrise Kingdom
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on June 19, 2012
Set in 1965, Moonrise Kingdom is a stylized coming of age film that delivers on its promise to bring the viewer of any age back to the intensity of just-entering-adolescence love. That alone makes this an extraordinary film. In addition, the music and imagery are beautifully orchestrated to delight the senses. The casting, characters, and acting are superb. It is rare to have a film that puts together this much talent and then taps it to the fullest.

Heavy hitters include the brilliant Edward Norton (for once watching his language and holding his temper) as an anal but dedicated troop leader, Bill Murray who in stark contrast to the young stars in this film, fails to find any joy whatsoever in his work in the law profession, wealth, family or beautiful surroundings. His dissatisfied wife (Frances McDormand who was the psychiatrist in Norton's first film Primal Fear), is also an attorney (the lawyer banter are some of the funniest lines in the film). Bruce Willis (who plays very well with child stars as he has a bit of child still left in him) is the bachelor, island cop who goes head-to-head with the chilling Tilda Swinton (white witch from Narnia) known only as "Social Services," as she callously plans to put "the boy" in juvenile refuge to undergo shock therapy as needed.

Despite the exceptionally strong adult cast, the two main child stars Sam and Suzy not only keep pace, but outshine the grownups with their unfailing loyalty and unconditional love for each other, both express an unthinking complete giving of themselves to one other. The film captures beautifully in the persons of these two intriguing social outcasts the experience of moving from being trapped in isolation into discovering and developing a union with another. I love how the two of them are so adult and wise in one way and still very much children, with childlike reasoning and priorities, e.g., Suzy runs away and packs a suitcase full of books and her kitten but not a change of clothes.

The cast is rounded out by a boyscout troop with scouts having inappropriately derogatory names as we did in my youth - such as lazy eye for the boy with the eyepatch. Also true to life was how dangerous and unsupervised our childhoods were then. Seeing the boy jump from two story height onto a trampoline without a surrounding net or a single spotter in sight, for example, really brought me back. And interactions with our parents really were pretty much restricted to being called to the table for dinner. I loved seeing Suzy's little brothers (Irish triplets) while away the time with all of the board and other none electronic games, fueled by a couple of dice or imagination.

Wes Anderson spins a simple, sweet story - yet the viewer never knows exactly where it is headed. Throughout, the film is subtly hilarious. In trademark Anderson fashion, the lines are delivered in an almost deadpan way with all the characters completely oblivious to the irony and ridiculousness of the situation, dialog, and even their lives and themselves. I highly recommend purchasing this movie; it's one you'll want to watch again and again and share with other people. I've already seen it four times and it hasn't even opened in theaters in my state, yet.
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IN A WORLD WHERE films must shock, where films must employ impossible stunts, extreme violence and outrageous characters, comes Moonrise Kingdom - with none of it. This is a real STORY, with real characters, in which everything that happens is actually possible. What a concept. Told with humor and compassion, the film sweeps you along without the dreaded need for suspension of disbelief. The story is pure Americana - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some do it better than others. Not everyone is a winner. Its stars - seven of them! - are all totally out of character. This is not a Bill Murray vehicle or an Edward Norton vehicle or a Bruce Willis vehicle. The stars fit in, almost as afterthoughts. It's the story that counts. Most impressively, it has style. From the opening shots of Susie, face on with her binoculars in various rooms of the house, you know this film will be stylish. And understated. It is worthy of any screen in the world, in a world where American films have become overpoweringly boring and repetitive and entirely predictable. This is the kind of film that France would have originated, and which Americans would have remade into a noxious overkill of action and adventure. It is therefore rare and precious. It will endure long after Transformers XXVII has faded. Kudos to Wes Anderson and team for resisting the urges that every other Hollywood production takes for a granted as a requirement. Bob Balaban as the narrator, making his own appearance in the story, is inspired, as is his framing in the shots. That kind of attention to style gives Moonrise Kingdom the ability to sweep you away. On these shores, this is the first must see in years.
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on July 27, 2012
It is something of a challenge to write a review of a Wes Anderson film. How do you explain a film where the soundtrack includes pieces by Hank Williams and Benjamin Britten and yet they both fit perfectly? Everything about Anderson's style is so unique, from the way the visual shots are composed and the way the dialogue is written to the way the actors deliver the dialogue, not to mention the myriad odd little background details that are worked in throughout. It's almost impossible to simply describe the film and still do it proper justice. The best I can really say about Moonrise Kingdom is that it's arguably the ultimate Wes Anderson film, his masterpiece at least to date. And I say that as someone who isn't - or at least wasn't prior to this film - a particular fan of his work.

Written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom takes place in the summer of 1965 on an island off the coast of New England, where two twelve-year-old misfits - Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) run off together into the wilderness because they've fallen in love. In flashback, we learn that Sam, an orphan who's a member of Khaki Scout Troop 55, which has its summer camp every year on the island, and Suzy, whose utterly dysfunctional family has a summer house on the island, met the previous summer and felt an instant affinity for each other, which resulted in their corresponding over the year and hatching a plan to run away together when the two of them would again be on the island the following summer. When they meet up, each brings what they think they'll need to survive. Sam brings camping equipment; Suzy brings six books, her cat, and a portable record player.

A search begins for the two runaways when their respective adults notice they're missing. In the case of Sam, this is Scout Master Randy Ward (Edward Norton), and in Suzy's case, her lawyer parents, Walt Bishop (Bill Murray) and Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand) , who in turn call in the island's local police chief, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), who we subsequently learn has been having a long-term affair with Laura that both realize is hopeless but neither has the strength to walk away from.

I don't want to give away any more about the plot as a lot of the enjoyment of a Wes Anderson film is simply watching things unfold in delightful, unexpected and sometimes simply weird ways, and Moonrise Kingdom is no exception. I will say that the ending was perfectly written and executed, bringing a number of plot threads and themes together in ways that you'll truly have to experience to appreciate. If nothing else, Moonrise Kingdom truly merits an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The dialogue, the originality and the way in which the themes are developed in in which all of the intricate elements are tied together as the story plays out is truly a work of art. Not to mention all of the myriad little cultural cues and references worked into the visuals and the dialogue, from the more obvious ones like Noah's Ark and Peter Pan to the more obscure like Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce.

The performances are all top-notch, to the point that it's difficult to single out any one as being superior to the rest. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward turn in particularly deft performances as Sam and Suzy, more than able to carry the film's center as events swirl around them. Bruce Willis does a particularly nuanced job as the island's police chief, trying to do the right thing by the two runaways even when he can't manage to do it for himself, his eyes and his pauses delivering volumes about the things he doesn't say. Bill Murray's Walt is a bleakly comic mix of bluster and despair, while Frances McDormand's Laura runs the family show, herding her kids around with a bull-horn (something apparently Anderson's mother actually did). Edward Norton's Scout Master Randy goes through one of the film's more interesting evolutions as events lead him out of his comfort zone of structure and order into swirling chaos and eventually to surprising self-discovery. The boys who make up the rest of the Khaki Scouts in Troop 55 make an excellent supporting group-think character, as do the boys who play Suzy's three younger brothers. In addition to the cast already mentioned, other notable actors who show up are Bob Balaban as the film's on-screen Narrator (who is also apparently the island's local historian and who gives a bizarre visual impression of having been one of Santa's elves in a past life), Jason Schwartzman as one of the scout's Cousin Ben, Harvey Keitel as Khaki Scout Commander Pierce, and Tilda Swinton as "Social Services" (it's one of the running jokes in the film).

A lot of themes run through Moonrise Kingdom, particularly with regard to the question of whether there is any real difference between adults and children. The adults in Moonrise Kingdom all experience private feelings of inadequacy in their roles as adults, and in fact act like children in their dealings with each other, but maintain the pretense nonetheless in the presence of the 'real' children. The children in turn act like little versions of the adults, the only difference being that they're not yet aware of their inadequacies and hence do not feel inhibited by them. A lot of this is played out in the dialogue and the way the actors deliver it, maintaining an even consistency in the level of vocabulary and in the rhythm of delivery, whether the words are coming from an adult or a kid, further erasing the boundaries we generally use to distinguish between the two. The adults sound like the children and the children sound like the adults, but without the doubts.

There are a number of memorable scenes in the movie, many humorous but some surprising in how they speak again to the issues of whether there really is any difference between adulthood and childhood. And in the inadequacies adults feel in their roles as adults. One of my favorites is a moment where Walt and Laura are lying awake in their summer house, unable to sleep with the two kids missing and the sound of the approaching storm beginning to rise outside. As they stare at the ceiling, Walt, in a moment of despondent candor, says "I hope the roof flies off and sucks me into space." When Laura reminds him "We're all they've got," Walt replies simply but tellingly "It's not enough." Another great scene occurs when the other Scouts in the troop go searching for Sam, but only after arming themselves with every weapon they can find or make. It's darkly comic and appalling at the same time when you realize that the boys are just mimicking what they think adults are like.

On a side note, the books in the film that Suzy takes with her - and from which she reads to Sam and to the other Scouts - are completely fictitious. Or at least they were. Anderson commissioned six artists to create jacket covers for the books, and then he wrote the passages for each of the books that Suzy ends up reading aloud. Anderson had considered creating animated segments to accompany the reading scenes, but in the end he chose instead to just have Suzy reading with the boys listening enraptured. After the film was completed and released though, Anderson decided to animate all six books and use assemble them in a video in which Bob Balaban, acting against as narrator, introduces the segment for each of the books. This video may appear in the DVD/Blu-ray release as bonus material.

All in all, I would highly recommend Moonrise Kingdom, both to fans of Wes Anderson as his best film to date, and to anyone else who enjoys quirky but highly engaging story-telling with masterful attention to every detail and fine performances by an extremely talented cast of actors.
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It's 1965, and this mystical-magical story will tug at the heartstrings as it entertains with delight for the entire family. Sam and Suzy are both age twelve, neither one of them is popular and they both have their own issues outside of their charming relationship. However, they are appealing to each other in a unique friendship when they decide to run away together in their own great adventure. Bruce Willis can play the role of just about anything, and in this captivating story, his acting performance is excellent, along with all the other characters. The heart-warming story is touching, enjoyable from start to finish, and very funny. A Magnificent fun-filled movie for the entire family. Highly Recommended!
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This was a magical film for children and adults. It takes a little magical thinking to transplant yourself back to adolescence. This story all begins on an island, and no one else seems to live there but the people involved.

Suzy, played by Kara Howard lives with her family on this island. She seems to be the 'difficult' one in the family. On the same island is a Boy Scout camp, where Sam, played by Jared Gilman, an orphan, also seems to be the odd man out. No one seems to like him, and strangely he and Suzy met last summer and have planned a rendezvous to run away together. This sets the wheels in motion for an adolescence hunt by some very strange people. Bill Murray plays Suzy's father, and Frances McDormand plays her mother. Any film with McDormand amd Murray is sure to be a great one. We also have Bruce Willis playing the Island Policeman, Scoutman Ward payed by Ed Norton, and SocialServices played by Tilda Swinton. All these characters lead to an often time humorous film that deals with the turmoil of adolescence, the goodness of scouting, and the trials and tribulations of life.

This film is all played with straight faces, none for laughs, and the children are as superb as the adults. Wes Anderson has put together a film for us all, shining examples of life as we remember it.

Recommended. prisrob 01-05-13


Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
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on April 9, 2013
Moonrise Kingdom was a very enjoyable movie with a great cast. I found Edward Norton preformance great for the character he was doing, along with Bruce Willis being a human being slash police officer and watching out for the boy so nothing bad would happen to the kid. As for the movie itself I found myself laughing at mutiple scenes, remebering for me its was a middle school crush but not love. But I could defently relate to the young love concept for the boy and girl in the movie. I gave this movie a four star rating out of five because parts of the movie had me going you got to be kidding me, but overall a very amazing movie with a heartfelt message about a person's first love and what you would do to be with that first love. I watch the movie with an open mind and heart and found myself actually ended up enjoying the movie so I disagree with some reviews because I might be 31 years old, but I still feel like a kid at heart at times in my life and movies like this help me remember my youth. Plus at times I find myself wondering what happened to that part of my life, this movie and movies like it help me hold onto that part of my life and never forget the kid inside me.
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on January 25, 2015
My mom doesn't love me anymore, but that's ok because I watched this movie, and now colors aren't dull and I don't have to clutch my fists at different intervals to keep the devil at bay.
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on January 11, 2013
I normally have a no-movie-buying policy. I love movies, but I don't need physical copies of them cluttering up the house. Downloads are too easily available, without any storage issues. But in this case, my son fell in love with this movie in the theater, and I loved that this is the first movie he truly loved. So this was a Christmas gift, and a much appreciated one. The fact that I broke the house rule for it made the gift doubly sweet. Kind of like the treat of getting to stay up past your bedtime (reason alone to have a strict bedtime).
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on May 5, 2013
This is one of those movies that you are either going to like or you aren't. It is super quirky but it's a fun movie with some big name actors. It's funny and the acting is very good. If you want to watch something light and funny, this is it.
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on February 21, 2013
Very off-the-wall, funny, poignant, and able to entertain people of varied interests... I show this one when I don't want to offend people's political sensibilities, and don't know whether certain dramas or darker comedies or cult classics would be appropriate for all whom will be watching. No one has failed to enjoy it thus far, and my friends and family are a diverse lot.
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