If you want a film this summer to transport you to an exhilarating fantasy land, look past Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and The Amazing Spider-Man and Prometheus and films of the sort. Moonrise Kingdom, the latest from the gifted yet polarizing auteur Wes Anderson (Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox,The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) sucks you into a world of cynical innocence and cinematic magic that is delightful and endlessly entertaining.
Co-written with Roman Coppola, spawn of Francis Ford, Moonrise takes place in a colorful, exaggerated microcosm of the 1960s, as child lovers Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) run away from their drab, lonely lives ridden with oblivious adults and unsympathetic peers to be together. These two new actors are the heart and soul of the movie, bringing the right amount of childish tendencies and emotional disturbance to craft characters as adorable as they are depressing. Their love is awkward enough to make for many a comedic moment, yet sweet enough to be believable and engrossing.
While the children are the focus here, the adults aren’t cast to the side. As expected, Anderson gets marvelous performances from the rest of his impressive ensemble: Bill Murray plays the usual sad sap, this time with a dark side, and Bruce Willis brings elements of humor and vulnerability to his tough cop archetype. You can also expect a few choice cameos, but the standout here is Edward Norton; he steals the show as the tragically incompetent yet loveable scoutmaster of Sam’s troop.
Anderson’s numerous trademarks are present here as well, from the meticulous set and costume design to the symbolic and visually pleasing color palettes, to the pan shots and close-ups and cutaways. Despite pulling everything out of his bag of tricks, Anderson’s distinct style isn’t overly quirky or distracting as it is in some of his other films. The film knows not to take itself too seriously, yet there is room for a surprising amount of heart and genuine emotion.
Moonrise Kingdom has everything you would want out of a film at the cinema: humor, action, romance, story, and the perfect balance between escapism and self-awareness. It’s a rousing romp well worth your box office dollars, a gem among the typical Hollywood drivel. How it stacks up to the rest of Anderson’s films is subjective, but make sure not to miss this one.
Here's a look at what's showing in local movie theaters this weekend:
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: 5:15 p.m.
Prometheus: 8 p.m.
Lucia di Lammermoor: 10 a.m. Saturday
The Dark Knight Rises: 11:30 a.m., 3:10 p.m., 7 p.m., 10:35 p.m.
Century Larkspur Landing
Ice Age, Continental Drift: 5 p.m.
Ice Age, Continental Drift (3D): 7:30 p.m., 10 p.m.
The Amazing Spider-Man (3D): 7 p.m., 10:10 p.m.
Magic Mike: 5:15 p.m., 7:50 p.m., 10:30 p.m.
Ted: 5:25 p.m., 8 p.m., 10:35 p.m.