MOONRISE KINGDOM (Wes Anderson, 2012) is the story of an awkward pre-teen orphan boy named Sam (Jared Gilman) in 1965, who runs off with a tall, pretty girl named Suzy (Kara Hayward), who he plans to marry, despite not knowing the first thing about relationships. This naturally sends her parents into a frantic pursuit, for which they enlist Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), the local police Captain. Oblivious to the authorities hot on their heels, they enjoy a sweet journey through the woods of an island, an area they call "Moonrise Kingdom". Though Suzy is taller than Sam, and they make a fairly awkward looking couple, they don't care, and are just enjoying being together. Will our lovers get away and be happy, or will the forces of society and reason destroy their idyllic fantasy? That's our film.
And it's beautiful. Not just in terms of story and sentiment, but look. This movie is magnificently shot, catching the feelings and texture of that place, which is initially a summer camp, and feels every bit like a summer camp. The color scheme of everything is gorgeous, it's perfectly lit, and the kids do a wonderful job with this material. They're adorable, and they're backed up by a virtual all star cast. Besides Willis, Frances Mcdormand is in this movie, as is Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, and of course, Jason Schwartzman. But they don't need to do much, because the kids and the story really do carry us all of the way through. It's a real pleasure to watch, funny and sad in all the right places. Could not be directed better.
But what I like best about this movie is that it has all of the nostalgia and sentiment we have come to expect in a movie about a childhood first love without really /trying/ to. I think of a movie like SUPER-8 (2011, J.J. Abrams), where Abrams milks every scene for as much bittersweet sentimentality as he can bring to it. Every scene feels like a scene in a movie about poor kids (specifically THE GOONIES (1988, Richard Donner)), rather than a sincere recreation of a time and a feeling. (THE GOONES was actually better than SUPER-8, in my opinion, because it was explicitly a kids movie, intended for them through and through, whereas SUPER-8 was like a tribute to other kid movies, which only an adult would pick up on. But I digress) MOONRISE KINGDOM is clearly /Wes Anderson's/ sentimental kid movie. It's completely in his voice, with his values, look, and sensibility. And it works exceptionally well as a result. I have not enjoyed myself this much in a movie like this in so long, I did not think it was still possible. So happy to see that Hollywood can still pull this off. A