From his quirky, satirical comedies in The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou to his last film, the stop-motion animated Fantastic Mr. Fox, complete with talking animals, anyone who is familiar with the work of Wes Anderson knows the age old phrase "expect the unexpected" thoroughly applies to this man almost more than anyone. His latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, in which he resorts back to live animation, is no exception to this.
Other than Fantasctic Mr. Fox, Anderson's films have generally been seen as comedies aimed at adult audiences. Yes, they are sometimes crude but what adult comedy isn't these days? In tune with the laughter, what Anderson does so marvelously in his films is create these "grown up comedies" with a charming and nostalgic hint to them. His ensemble pieces tend to have more than their fare share of off-beat characters who can do nothing else but screw up and yell at each other. One can feel no shame in laughing at these people but more so, in the case of The Royal Tenenbaums, a smile might arise when instinctively seeing your own family members on the screen. Thus, more times than not, the laughter then comes from these engaging and seemingly personal moments.
It appears no different in the case of Moonrise Kingdom. Set amidst a children's summer camp in the 1960s, two young campers, Suzy and Sam, take on a relationship that provokes them to run away from their camp. As a result, all hell breaks loose at the camp. All of the adults in this film are completely inept and dysfunctional as superiors to these kids and Anderson has an elite cast of A-listers to go with in Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Harvey Keital, who between the six of them have nine Oscar nominations (two wins). With that bunch on had, its anyone's surprise that none of them take a lead role in the film. Instead, Anderson leaves the top bills to the youngsters who play Suzy and Sam, both of which have never acted on the big screen before. It looks terrific, but I expect nothing less from Anderson these days. It's certainly a top pick of mine for 2012.
Moonrise Kingdom is set for a May 25th release in the United States