Moonrise Kingdom Review
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In 2009, hipster director Wes Anderson released a fantastically quirky little animated film called Fantastic Mr. Fox—a film that seems to get even better with each new viewing. Of course, only time will tell whether the same will the true for his follow-up, Moonrise Kingdom—but it doesn’t really matter, since it’s already a pretty fantastic little film.

One summer morning in 1965, the Khaki Scouts of Camp Ivanhoe are sitting down to breakfast when Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) realizes that one of his scouts is missing. Upon further inspection, he discovers that the least-liked scout of the group, a geeky little pipsqueak named Sam (Jared Gilman), has chosen to leave the Khaki Scouts.

Scout Master Ward immediately calls in Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) of the island police, hoping that he’ll be able to find the missing boy—but it soon becomes clear that Sam isn’t alone. He’s decided to run away with Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), the love of his young life.

With a hurricane approaching, a massive search party sets out to scour the island of New Penzance and bring the missing young couple home.

No other director today makes films that are quite as delightfully droll as Wes Anderson’s—and this grainy, old-school tale of young love is one of the distinctive director’s most lovable adventures yet.

Anderson is a master of silences—and he carefully directs every last facial expression and awkward pause to give the film his signature deadpan style. Somehow, under Anderson’s watchful eye, the cast members manage to remain perfectly straight-faced and serious from beginning to end—and the result is absolutely hilarious. From Norton’s overzealous Scout Master Ward to Tilda Swinton’s straight-laced social services agent—and even Hayward’s moody preteen runaway, Suzy—their unflappable seriousness has the exact opposite effect on the audience. In fact, I don’t know that I stopped chuckling until the closing credits rolled.

Each of the film’s eccentric characters is lovable in his or her own way—whether in bigger roles (like Willis’s kind-hearted cop, Captain Sharp) or tiny, supporting roles (like Suzy’s little brothers, who do little more than sit around in the background, playing board games and listening to records). The characters in a Wes Anderson movie don’t have to be narrating the whole story (like Bob Balaban) to be brimming with personality. Each one—from the adorable young lovers to the eccentric Khaki Scouts—brings something fun to the story.

With its geeky sense of humor and its oddly endearing characters, Moonrise Kingdom is another hit for the King of Quirk. So if you’re in the mood for something completely different from the usual summer action and outrageous comedy, be sure to hunt down this clever little adventure.

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