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Bruce Willis
Tilda Swinton
Bill Murray
Edward Norton
Jared Gilman
Kara Hayward
Frances McDormand
Harvey Keitel
Bob Balaban.
Wes Anderson.
Wes Anderson
Roman Coppola.
Running Time
94 minutes

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Moonrise Kingdom
The Lost Boy Scout

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1965, New England. Scout Master Ward (Norton) wakes to find his peaceful camp thrown into chaos by the disappearance of eccentric Khaki Scout Sam (Gilman). Teaming with lovelorn local sheriff Captain Sharp (Willis), Ward discovers the youngster may have absconded with Suzy (Hayward), daughter of world-weary lawyers Mr. and Mrs. Bishop (Murray and McDormand).

Moonrise Kingdom
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Anderson-ian? Anderson-esque? People often opt for the even-less wieldy “Wes Anderson-y”. When Richard Ayoade’s feature debut, Submarine, was bracketed thus, it was high but exclusive praise: “It’s, I don’t know... It was very Wes Anderson-y.” There’s something about the world the Houston-born, Austin-educated writer/director creates: a considered vibrancy to it that feels very designed but yet real, affected but touching. He was the perfect filmmaker for Fantastic Mr. Fox. He could make a kick-ass Charlie Brown. Here he mines the material of his own mind — along with Roman Coppola’s — for a story about first love, tender regret, coming of age and second chances.

Nostalgia is, it seems, just as good as it used to be: this is another American movie to make you long for an upbringing you never had — just as Adventureland had you embracing theme park peccadilloes and Dazed And Confused made you think the ’70s were in fact worthwhile.

It says something about Anderson’s astute taste and delivery that his seventh feature evokes both the pop- and pot-laced reflections of that masterpiece by fellow Texan Richard Linklater and the more hard-faced ruminations on youth in François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. You watch Anderson’s films and feel like you should know more about European and American cinema, but his work never feels like it’s trying hard to impress. It’s made by someone as at ease reading Proust as watching North By Northwest, someone whose work lingers in the mid-Atlantic, with a European spirit and an American landscape: call it Andersonland. Sometimes it can feel a tad chilly (The Royal Tenenbaums), sometimes too breezy (The Darjeeling Limited), but when you’re acclimatised, few places can feel as warm, beautiful and oddly hospitable.

Though considerably lower in both budget and stop-motion jaguar sharks, Moonrise Kingdom feels like a companion-piece to The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou: sharing not just Bill Murray (of course), but a sense of sorrow over roads not taken and love left to neglect. Though the runaway relationship is at its heart, it works because the body is the mouldy marriage of the Bishops (Murray and Frances McDormand) and the sad-sack soul of the sheriff. Bruce Willis — for whom the term irascible describes not so much a temperament as a career — is understated and touching as the local law-enforcer, living his life of quiet desperation and seeing something in himself kindled by the spark of young love.

Murray and McDormand have an inherent warmth that serves as the echo of happier times in their now stricken relationship, which would otherwise be a little lightly sketched. There’s also a lovely, if upsetting, truth in seeing people try to raise children — Suzy (Kara Hayward) discovers her mother’s copy of Coping With The Very Troubled Child — when you realise you don’t really have a bloody clue what to do with them, other than strive to make sure they don’t turn out like you. What is appealing here is innocence and confidence, whether from the children or even the initially rather clueless kind of Edward Norton’s Scout leader, whose guilelessness appears to be mocked but is eventually admired. Certainty is perhaps the thing we miss most from being young — because you are never so certain as when you don’t know how wrong you can be. That’s where the love between Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy is so beguiling. It’s insane to run away together to a cove and imagine you’ll never be found by the parents you wish you didn’t have or will replace the ones you have lost with this new love. But it’s a fairy tale they — and we — want to believe.

Eventually, the story’s resolution feels a little pat, after the slightly forced drama of the third act (Tilda Swinton is great as the cruel Social Services, but a rather late-arriving witch-figure in this fantasy land). But it doesn’t matter, because what Anderson is selling isn’t drama, it’s hope. This is a delightful film of innocence lost and regained — with superb turns from the newly discovered leads. Charming, daft, bright and joyful. Very — yes, okay — Wes Anderson-y.

As funny, bittersweet and as distinct as you’d expect from Wes Anderson, a director who helps you know you are not alone. Terrific performances from sprogs to stars and a lovely sense of the sorrow and joy of growing up.

Reviewed by Nev Pierce

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Moonrise Kingdom
Empire Star Rating

RE: Brilliant as usual

L: lola_re Was anyone else really impressed by the soundtrack? I heard so much music in that film that I can't imagine hearing anywhere else, like this --> Cromwellote] Yep. The music was well matched with the qwerkyness of the movie. Must check it (soundtrack) out some time. ... More

Posted by OPEN YOUR EYES at 13:11, 02 November 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Brilliant as usual

Was anyone else really impressed by the soundtrack? I heard so much music in that film that I can't imagine hearing anywhere else, like this --> Cromwell ... More

Posted by lola_re at 11:51, 02 November 2012 | Report This Post


Just seen it and it is one of Andersons better films or,arguably,his best. It had the usual qwerkyness but I felt this time that it was slightly more grounded and wasn't trying to be over the top or garish. The acting was great,especially from Bruce Willis who I'd like to see do more similar roles other than the anti hero characters he's played throughout his career. The pacing was perfect,the humour and wit was executed with precision and visually it portrayed that classic Anderson style... More

Posted by OPEN YOUR EYES at 22:33, 06 October 2012 | Report This Post


Great film for Anderson fans,not for non-believers.I loved it! ... More

Posted by TragicRomantic at 06:20, 07 July 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Charming

I agree with mos of you, this is not a film for everyone, but if you're into auteur approaches of reality, this is a film for you. For me it was sending out rare messages of innocence and true, young love, but I write it better over here: Enjoy! Edit - the site doesn't allow advertising of personal sites in posts. You're welcome to review the film here or post a link in your sig. But please don't refer to it within posts or try to direct users off-site. ... More

Posted by estelle at 09:51, 21 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Charming

As he hits the magic number of seven in terms of his directorial career (as well as a short film), you ought to know the mechanics of a Wes Anderson film. Although he is often criticised for being smug and a bit clever-clever, Anderson beautifully blends his dry humour with a fable narrative, along with a killer soundtrack, with works such as Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. Following his strange and perhaps adult-centric adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox, the director returns to live-action wi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 17:55, 12 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Charming

Yep. I liked this. Exactly what you would expect from Wes Anderson. It's a funny, charming, whimsical film, and provides many many moments of real originality and wit. In particular, his talent for good old fashioned storytelling is one of his strengths. There's a scene where Anderson seems to abandon the realistic special effect for something much more theatrical, proving that it isn't what you see, but what you feel that matters. Film-school stuff. Go see. ... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 19:42, 09 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Moonrise Kingdom

It's interesting that in following an adaptation of a celebrated children's book that was anything but a film for kids (despite the presence of stop-motion animals scoffing vast quantities of food), Wes Anderson has ironically created something that in many ways could be considered his closest thing to a children's film - all being with his obligatory stylisation, musing over fairly non-childlike interests(the records of Francoise Hardy) & his trademark offbeat tone. The reason being that the f... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 15:38, 03 June 2012 | Report This Post


Absolutely fantastic. This is very much a Wed Anderson movie. As others have said elsewhere, if you have a problem with his way of telling a story this film will do nothing for you, but if you're a fan, this is Wes doing what he does best. I adore his use of colour, composition, and camera movement; his movies are always a joy to look at. The film is full of the whimsy and idiosyncrasy that I've come to expect from his films, and I left the viewing a happy bunny indeed. Highly recomm... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 11:52, 30 May 2012 | Report This Post

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