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Film Review : Moonrise Kingdom

06/30/2012 05:53PM ● Published by Justin Buettner

This unique teenage romance movie follows Sam and Suzy, who both are social outcasts twelve year olds who find comfort in each other. They agree to run away and meet in the woods of a small island community. This prompts the local police, Suzy’s family, and Sam’s overzealous boy scout troop to stage a massive search as a massive storm is set to hit the island. Can Sam and Suzy avoid being caught and survive the storm as they try and find their place in the world?

Wes Anderson makes Wes Anderson movies, and those Wes Anderson fans know what I mean. His movies have a very specific style, tone and delivery and Moonrise Kingdom is no different. The characters are generally deadpan and speak with an almost military precision, the camera movies in a very direct way (and he even uses zooms and intentionally lets the camera lose focus), and above all the costumes and sets look like artist renderings from 60’s suburbia. I have to admit I really disliked Anderson’s first film Rushmore, but with each passing film I find I am enjoying his work more. I am uncertain whether his movies are improving or his unique sense of storytelling is growing on me. Regardless Moonrise Kingdom is far and away his best film to date.

The setting of an overzealous boy scout troop is perfect for Wes Anderson’s style of dialogue. The whole set up of the small island, local townsfolk, and the leads romance all just fit in what felt like a surreal fairytale. There was a certain magic in the movie that is hard to explain, perhaps it was the innocence of the love story between the two outcast twelve year olds. Moonrise Kingdom had a lot of heart and a lot of situations I think a general audience could relate to.

In a film like Moonrise Kingdom the acting is almost impossible to judge because no one acts like a real person. I can say that the movie employed a stellar cast and they all performed their roles as I imagine Wes Anderson directed them to. Also despite the long list of award winning actors, the movie’s success really depended on two first time child actors and they managed to pull it off.  Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are compelling new actors and oddly look like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson from the Harry Potter movies. There is a great chemistry between the two new actors that really worked. I loved how the movie really didn’t shy away from Suzy’s behavior problems including her penchant of going berserk when pushed. I wish they had better demonstrated Sam’s behaviors too, as he was called emotionally unstable but there was no clear evidence of that in the movie.

The end of the film gets a little absurd, but by the time the film goes over the top you are already invested in the characters so you are prepared to go with whatever the film throws at you. If you find you are bored with the same old Hollywood styled films then you should give Moonrise Kingdom a try. The movie is undeniably interesting at the very least and unlike anything else in theaters this summer. Those that are Wes Anderson fans will be thrilled with his best film yet as it delivers his brand of quirky and strange in spades.

Movies like Moonrise Kingdom : The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and the Royale Tenenbaums


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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