- Running time:
- 94 minutes
- Bruce Willis -
- Captain Sharp
- Edward Norton -
- Scout Master Ward
- Bill Murray -
- Mr. Bishop
- Frances McDormand -
- Mrs. Bishop
- Tilda Swinton -
- Social Services
Literate, melancholy and magical, Moonrise Kingdom (* * * ½ out of four, rated PG-13, opens Friday in select cities) is quintessential Wes Anderson, infused with his brand of daffy wit.
The director's best film since 1998's Rushmore, it has none of the self-conscious smugness of The Life Aquatic or the empty eccentricity of The Royal Tenenbaums. But, as in both of those films, it features Bill Murray in a key role.
A lyrical blend of wit, whimsy and woe is Anderson's trademark, and Moonrise Kingdom is no exception. With its focus on a pair of 12-year-olds, the film has the quality of an offbeat fairy tale that is both meticulously detailed and dreamlike.
Other Anderson films, including Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited, have focused on disaffected adults, but the lens here is trained on adolescent angst and the headiness of first love.
Suzy (Kara Hayward) is a sad-faced girl with painted blue eyelids, saddle shoes and a penchant for looking at the world through binoculars. The coonskin-cap-wearing Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphan mocked by his peers and cast out by his foster parents.
These two outsiders find each other and fall in love on the idyllic (and fictional) island of New Penzance. They make a pact to run away together, setting off a mad search during a hurricane in the summer of 1965.
Newcomers Gilman and Hayward are well-suited for their roles, though Hayward looks more like a Lolita-esque 14-year-old, and Gilman could pass for 10. But their mismatched quality is part of the quirky charm of the film.
Murray and Frances McDormand play Suzy's parents, a pair of lawyers disconnected from each other, as well as from Suzy and their three young sons.
Ed Norton is hilarious as the chain-smoking leader of Sam's Khaki Scout troop. Bruce Willis is wonderfully low-key as the town's lonely, well-meaning sheriff. Tilda Swinton has a small part as an officious bureaucrat (who identifies herself only as "Social Services"). Bob Balaban is an elfin narrator.
Suzy and Sam trudge off into the woods and set up camp, with an endearing blend of moxie and defiance. Their interactions are tenderly funny. Adult cluelessness and the clash between children and those tasked to care for them are recurring Anderson themes.
With this, his seventh film, Anderson — who co-wrote the script with Roman Coppola— makes only one misstep, in a scene that involves a canine camp mascot.
Otherwise, his stylized tale comes off like an enchanting, if idiosyncratic, storybook fantasy with coming-of-age emotional depth.
With music by composer Benjamin Britten offering a dramatic counterpoint, Anderson weaves a sweetly compassionate tale of troubled kids and young love. Marked by a lovely wistful quality, Moonrise Kingdom is an enchantingly droll song of innocence and experience.
Movie theaters and showtimes for Moonrise Kingdom in St. Louis.
No Showtimes available
movies & tv reviews
Catch up on recent movies & tv reviews you might have missed the first time around.