“Why can’t you control your Scouts!”
Moonrise Kingdom is a pleasant storybook surprise that put me in the mind of Stanley Kubrick. It doesn’t hurt that one of the young players resembled the legendary director. The film is a grand surprise that offers everything a memorable film should. Don’t let the moon set without seeing this gem.
The year is 1965. The place is New Penzance Island. Our well-versed narrator (Bob Balaban) informs us of the history of the island and foreshadows the events to come. The isolated island, it is an island after all, has many diverse inhabitants. Lawyers Laura (Frances McDormand) and Walt (Bill Murray) Bishop seem well read and have to call their passel of children with a bullhorn. Khaki scoutmaster Randy Ward (Edward Norton) watches over his trop with precision and duty.
Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) is the long arm of the law on the sleepy island but spends most of his time fishing and maybe visiting a certain married lady. Excitement fills the island when the Bishop’s dour daughter Suzy (Kara Hayward) runs away with orphan Khaki scout Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman).
Their love will build just as the impending storm envelopes the area and will involve “Social Services” (Tilda Swinton), Scout commander Pierce (Harvey Keitel), and grifter scout Cousin Ben (Jason Schwartzman). The storm with bring the sound and fury, but the tale of the young couple will signify something.
Moonrise Kingdom is a film that has a certain storybook lyricism mixed with quirky characters. You know the typical Wes Anderson film. Fans will certainly embrace Moonrise Kingdom but it also has the ability to pull in those that might not have ever heard of the director. At its core we have a story of two young lovers who decide to run away together.
She makes sure she takes along her favorite books and canned cat food for her kitten, but he, being a good scout, brings his camping knowledge and knowhow. Both the young folks have their issues but we sympathize with them finding each other and the kid’s, albeit short, trek to get away from the adults in their lives. The adults are not without their shortcomings, but they too are likeable enough that we also sympathize with them trying to track down these lawbreakers.
I really got a Kubrick vibe from the whole thing, although not as intense but with a comedic edge. Anderson certainly knows what he is doing and peoples the cast with fine actors, especially our young couple. That Kubrick vibe might come from the fact that I kept thinking that the young Gilman looked like what I’d imagine Stanley resembling at the age, maybe less dark though.
Moonrise Kingdom is presented in a 1080p transfer (1.85:1). Special features include the 3 minute “A Look inside Moonrise Kingdom,” the 6 minute “Welcome to the island of New Penzance, and a 3 minute “Set tour with Bill Murray.” You also get a DVD and digital copy. One can’t help but think that a more expansive (Criterion?) edition might be in the future.
Moonrise Kingdom is a wonder and a delight. I laughed and cried and again fell in love. The extras are a bit sparse and I’d imagine that a better version might be rising someday, but I loved the film so much that I ran away with it anyway.
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