Moonrise Kingdom is, at its very core, a story about young love and the way adults often ruin and convolute innocence. All the typical Wes Anderson elements are here. It’s quirky, whimsical, eccentric, all words we’ve used to describe every Anderson flick to come before. But where many of his films often leave the viewer feel like they are watching a painting or a window shop rather than a movie, Moonrise Kingdom never feels that way. Here, we get something we have never fully seen from Anderson before, real depth of character that outshines his own pretentious filmmaking. We have a summer love movie disguised as a Wes Anderson flick. The result is interesting.
Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward star as two kids who just want to be together, so at the dismay of their parents, higher ups and fellow campers, they run away. What follows is a ridiculously enjoyable summer romp made wonderful because of our two leads. Truthfully, these kids outshine everyone in their breakout roles. Keep in mind, they’re starring with Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Ed Norton and Bill Murray, all veteran scene stealers.
Moonrise Kingdom is the first time Anderson has given us balance in storytelling, character and direction. Where his other films often feel dry, this one feels sardonic and witty. Where others feel over the top, this feels perfectly honed in. Where others feel exclusive and delusional, this feels welcoming and extremely self aware. Where others feel a bit nonsensical, this feels very relevant and all encompassing.
I enjoy Anderson, but have long been very blaze about much of his work, never completely enveloping myself into the dialogue and over hyped praise for him. After watching Moonrise Kingdom, I have with relief, finally been witness to another, more humanistic side to him. A side that focuses on character, story, humility and actual themes. Moonrise Kingdom is Anderson at his absolute best and most humble. After so many films and so much notoriety, it feels like Anderson finally made a movie with no predispositions. It feels like he paid attention to the art of storytelling.