Criticism, Movies

Movie Review: ‘Moonrise Kingdom’

0 Comments 25 May 2012

 

Moonrise, Moonset: a Wes Anderson fantasy (photo by Focus Features)

I try to love Wes Anderson. Really. I do. Give me “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” any day, or “Rushmore;” even “The Royal Tenenbaums.” But his latest twee tableau shortchanges story and character development (oy vey – is the point arrested development again?). The retro comedy waves a banner of cleverness, where insight would be more welcome. The whole enterprise reminds me of the shrewd little rodent boxes made by Steve Carell’s character in “Dinner for Schmucks.”  Admittedly, the story is slight: twelve-year-old outcasts Sam and Suzy run away from home and camp, respectively, on one of those adventures straight out of the children’s novels Suzy pointedly schleps along. Their disappearance has a Rube Goldberg effect, as the eccentric inhabitants of their small New England island freak out searching for the adolescents in what promises to be “Lord of the Flies” fashion, and becomes an episode of vintage tween Nick. The whole enterprise is elevated by the playful production design and art direction, although it very much reminded me of the Shine Gallery at LA’s Farmers Market. That’s the memorabilia store that has all those artifacts from my childhood when the market was rundown and there was no Starbucks or Pinkberry. “Moonrise Kingdom” suffers from suffocating nostalgia for a time of innocence that never was, bolstered by an array of A-list stars like Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and the ever compelling, typically underused Frances McDormand. Bill Murray, who not-so-bravely bares his bear-belly, plays Suzy’s father, and has become tedious playing characters weighed down by their own self-indulgent, world-weary angst. Is this sad-sack suicidal father of the runaway an example of the conformist authority figures that the pint-sized lovers Suzy and Sam are escaping – or what they’re unwittingly running toward as they pair off so early in their young lives?

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