Monday, June 25, 2012

Why See This...Moonrise Kingdom [2012]

As Moonrise Kingdom begins, its opening shots cleverly create the illusion that what you are looking at is not a movie.  What we see through the deliberately square and mechanically positioned camera is a series of perfectly set up rooms in a quaint New England styled cabin.  Everything in them so perfect and so intricately positioned that the frames look more like static pictures than a movie.  For a visual comparison, I immediately thought of the Thorne Miniature Room Gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago as I watched the film.  These miniature rooms bear a certain resemblance to the look of a Wes Anderson film. Whether they look like one of the cottage rooms from Anderson’s opening scene or instead take their design from 17th France, these miniature rooms all share a perfect design with a hint of elegance and intimacy.  In a similar way after seven features, cinephiles have come to recognize the Wes Anderson design within seconds of its playing- goldenrod hues, dysfunctional characters (lots of them) and always set to a rockin' soundtrack.  His style is wonderful and cleverly pronounced, though never over done.  Unfortunately, not the same can be said about his characters.

We have seen Anderson do this before with the distant brothers in The Darjeeling Limited, the incompetent, revenge-seeking marine men  of The Life Aquatic with SteveZissou and most famously with the hyper-dysfunctional family of The RoyalTenenbaums.  His consistent, cutting edge style has made him arguably the most recognizable director working today.  This unique influx of elegance and the deliberately bad make his movies such a joy to watch.  It mirrors the same fascination we have with watching videos other people failing and being able to only experience their pain vicariously and with a lots of laughter.  All in all though, Moonrise Kingdom is much more worth your time than 90 minutes on Fail Blog.

And it probably seems preposterous that I begin to compare the high and mighty cinema with low brow YouTube videos taken from a shaky camcorder.  One is an art form developed through years of meticulous work and practice while the other tends to be the results of a "right place, right time with a camcorder in your hands" sort of luck.  You can certainly try and make a case that Fail Blog is funnier than Moonrise Kingdom.  On a good day, nothing tops it.  But what this movie has that Fail Blog lacks completely is charm.  We can agree that there is nothing charming about a people running into an automatic door though it is sort of funny.  Anderson's seventh feature has a certain bit of charm that we usually only find in the movies once a year and that is if we are lucky.  Last year it was Woody Allen's Midnight inParis; this year it’s Moonrise Kingdon, and from the looks of it, nothing coming out later this year will top it. One person I talked to said the movie was "cute, almost to the point that it was too cute."  I personally would not drag the movie too far down that path because Moonrise Kingdom still has enough sly and mature humor to earn it a PG-13 rating.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

But a story about a two dorky 12 year-olds who struggle fitting in, fall in love, and decide to run away from their summer camps together will undoubtedly be cute.  Throw in a group of dorky, overly prepared Khaki Scouts, and it's as good as gold.  Moonrise Kingdom works well within that labeling, though it certainly does not need or depend on it.  The appeal of this movie rests largely in the hands of its talented child actors, of which there are too many to name.  Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward give extraordinary performances as the misunderstood and runaway lovers both of whom make their big screen debuts here. More than any bit of cinematic style or texture, their acting drives the film first and foremost; and given the stellar cast of A-list veterans that Anderson managed to throw together (Murray, McDormand, Wilis, Norton, Swinton), that is certainly a feat of its own.



  1. Peaks my curiosity the love Moonrise Kingdom is receiving from critics and bloggers alike, so I’ll probably end up watching it, and see for myself it's "too cute" or the right amount of cuteness for me.

  2. Definitely go see it, you won't be disappointed. And trust me it wasn't "too cute" to enjoy.