Wes Anderson has a unique style that often includes striking imagery, oddball humour delivered deadpan, Bill Murray, and a refreshing narrative with that Andersonquirkiness. Moonrise Kingdom is no exception. I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing all of Anderson’s films but I’ve seen enough to know he’s severely under appreciated. He produces quality not quantity but often his work flies under the radar. And again Moonrise Kingdom is no exception. It took $8,738,351 box office world wide but deserves so much more attention as what I think is Anderson’s best film to date. But its time has come and gone, replaced in theatres by summer blockbusters The Avengers, MIB3, Prometheus, and Snow White each bringing in over $50,000,000 in their opening weekend; Avengers making more than four times that with over $200,000,000 in its opening weekend. So it’s no wonder Moonrise Kingdom got pushed aside in favour of these larger cash cows. And while I appreciate a blockbusters appeal to a far broader audience and while they get far more advertising and money pumped into them that doesn’t always mean the product is better; it’s just bigger. Alas ‘tis the nature of the beast, and will always be the case. But Anderson, despite what recent box office may say, has a loyal and growing fan base. Earlier films like The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox were far more successful in theatres, The Royal Tenanbaums bringing in more than four times as much as Moonrise Kingdom. But then this has been a great couple of months for film with a lot of competition and it’s easy to see how a quaint film like Moonrise Kingdom could fall by the wayside.
However, just because you’ve missed it in theatres doesn’t mean it’s forgotten. I shall be forcing this film on all my friends as soon as it’s released on DVD, and no doubt those people will go on to recommend it to someone else. And if not I’ll do it for them.
But less about figures, more about the film ……..
Moonrise Kingdom has a great cast, a mixed bag of fresh faces and high profile actors that include Francis Mcdermott, Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, and Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. Surprisingly though it’s newcomers Jarad Gilman and Kara Hayward, with no previous features or any films on their CV, who steal the show as leads Sam and Suzy. A young adventurous and in love couple who run away from home to escape the hum drum and restrictions of every day life under parental rule and a group of ruthless cub scouts in favour of the great outdoors.
It’s a quaint film set before a picturesque backdrop of Rhode Island, New England which conjures up memories of reading old children adventure novels like Famous Five and for a brief moment Lord Of The Flies. It’s incredibly stylised, each shot; a striking image telling its own story; each frame staying with you long after its left the screen.
It’s accompanied by a French inspired soundtrack as hypnotic as its stunning scenery. It evokes a sense of adventure and maturity between these young run away lovers that is consistent throughout the film; steering it far from a children’s adventure story, into an adult narrative which merges the two as Suzy plays ‘grown up’ songs on her younger brother’s toy record player; while the couple dance together in their underwear (it’s mildly uncomfortable I must say).
It’s not like anything you’ve seen before, unless you’ve seen other Wes Anderson films, and then it’s still unique and refreshing only told in that Anderson style.
It’s got the whole package, impressive cast, stunning locations, dry humour (which I love), memorable soundtrack, and incredible direction. And a bonus for me is Ed Norton wears tight Khaki shorts throughout, and he looks damn good in Khaki shorts.