Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great young actors, great looking film

Had a problem with the 3rd act and ending of the film which didn't live up to the first part

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Moonrise Kingdom

Studio:  American Empirical Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy/Romance/Drama

Release Date(s):  May 16, 2012 (Cannes)/May 26, 2012 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


So, I can pretty much survive in the wild…how about you?

Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) are both troubled children.  Sam’s parents are deceased and his foster parents and the Khaki Scouts have given up on him.  Suzy is prone to violence and her mother Laura (Frances McDormand) is having an affair with the New Penzance island lawman Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis).  When Sam and Suzy runaway to be with each other, the Khaki Scouts led by Scout Master Randy Ward (Edward Norton) and Suzy’s father Walt (Bill Murray) and mother set out to find them.  When they are recaptured, Suzy and Sam’s adventure could just be beginning or headed to a tragic end as a storm bears down on the island.

Directed by Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom was released to great fanfare and one of the biggest box office draws of all time for the few theaters that saw its initial release.  Following Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2009, the movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.  The film also received a release from the Criterion Collection (Criterion #776).


Wait, we’re getting schooled by a couple of first time actors?

I love Wes Anderson, and I love his style.  Moonrise Kingdom does not disappoint on this aspect.  The movie and characters still pop with life and originality that has made his movies very distinctive.  The shots, style, and story always support his films.

I love the kids in this movie.  The movie is loaded with stars like Anderson regulars Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bob Balaban, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, and Tilda Swinton, but Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward steal the show.  Jared reminds me a bit of Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story playing a character that is sure of himself but still so self-conscious.  Kara Hayward reminds me of a more recent actress like Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame.  She really can pull off emotion in a script that is intentionally detatched with ease.  This was both actors first film, and both were found by Anderson’s crew.


What kind of bird are you?

The first part of the movie is great.  I wish that some aspects didn’t get so surreal (like the tree house) because the film feels real, but surreal with things that still seeming natural.  The portion of the film with the children in the woods together is nice and echoes Terrence Malick’s Badlands with Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek.  This works great for Anderson whose early film Rushmore capitalized on having children perform age inappropriate films as plays.  It is great and great looking.


We’re here…stop by for a visit!

The movie however hits a hitch when the kids are recaptured.  It just loses its style.  I like that the Khaki Scouts decide to help Sam, but don’t like where the story goes.  The ending works out too clean, and I was kind of hoping for the possibility of a downer ending where things don’t work out perfectly.  It almost felt like Anderson and Coppola wasn’t quite sure how to end it.  It seems weird to me that this was recognized for so many script awards when the ending is flawed.

Moonrise Kingdom despite its flaws is a fun, good looking picture.  It isn’t my favorite of Anderson’s films, nor is it my least favorite.  I have to say I get excited when I see he is coming out with a new film, and more than often I’m impressed.  Moonrise Kingdom keeps up the tradition, but I wish it had excelled just a bit more in story to match its great acting and visuals.  Anderson followed Moonrise Kingdom with the Academy Award nominated The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2014.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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