Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Who needs to go all the way to France to see Wes Anderson's new movie before it hit theaters when you can just get on the N train and go to Astoria?! Thanks to the Museum of the Moving Image I got a sneak peek at one of the most buzzworthy films to come out of the Cannes film festival so far. Before we go any further with this review I'll just get it outta the way and say that Wes Anderson's latest film is very good and worthy of all the early praise it’s been getting. It's a pretty typical thing to say in a movie review but this may be one of his best movies and we see a side of him as a director we haven't seen yet (Moonrise Kingdom has more special effects than any other Wes Anderson movie with more than one daring rescue attempt). Drawing inspiration from the beginning of Royal Tenenbaums where we see young Richie & Margot run away from home together, Moonrise Kingdom is also about two children in love who do the same (and the search party that's out to find them and bring 'em home). Our two main characters are "Sam" - a troubled orphan boy scout with no friends who's foster family doesn't want back, and "Suzy" - the daughter of two lawyers that barely speak to each other (and she kinda has a bit of a temper). The only problem with Sam & Suzy's plan to run away is that they can't get very far due to the fact that they live on a secluded New England island thats about to face it's biggest rain storm in history.
I was worried that The Fantastic Mr. Fox would be a fluke and Anderson would go back to his regular quirky B.S. that some of us have grown a little tired of. But this time around he doesn’t force his meticulously quirky 1960's "look" on a story that takes place in 2012 (we get it Wes, you like nostalgia, artifacts from back in the day, corduroy and British pop music, but after a while the world of Wes Anderson can start to get a little played out). Instead he finally just sets the story in the 1960's making his signature look, soundtrack and overall vibe of the film seem less forced. He gives his India fetish a rest, there’s no sign of a Wilson brother and along with his regular cast of actors like Bill Murray (Suzy's father) & Jason Schwartzman (a rival scout leader who helps Sam and Suzy escape on their second attempt), Anderson makes room for new faces like; Bruce Willis (the town sheriff in charge of finding Sam & Suzy), Ed Norton (Sam's scout leader), Frances Mccdormand (Suzy's cheating mother who communicates with her children through a megaphone), Tilda Swinton (a social worker, and the only character in the film that doesn't have an actual name) and Harvey Keitel (who's appearance is short but since he's my favorite actor and hasn’t been in anything good in quite some time, I'll take what I can get). Highlights from Moonrise Kingdom include Jason Schwartzman’s quick performance, Bob Balaban's narration and just overall presence (seriously, how has he never worked with Wes Anderson until now?), a boy scout getting stabbed in his kidney with scissors, Ed Norton rescuing Harvey Keitel, one of the main characters getting zapped by lightning, all the tracking shots, a funny Shawshank Redemption reference and pretty much the last 15-20 minutes of the movie. Animal lovers should be warned that there is a heartbreaking scene involoving the death of an animal. I also love Anderson's decision to cast two young unknowns as the main characters surrounded by a supporting cast of A-list veterans.
 Ever since the disappointing Darjeeling Limited and Life Aquatic (a film some people found to be a lil' problematic once the hype around it settled down), it seems like Anderson gave the quirky rich/upper-class family dramedy genre a rest and has been focusing more on making family oriented films. Naturally this will be loved & praised by the hardcore Wes Anderson fans that’re still in denial about how bad Darjeeling Limited really was, but it’s also a great movie for restoring faith in people that once loved Wes Anderson but have started to get a little sick of him.


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