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Thanks to two appealing juvenile leads, Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" succeeds in engaging and sometimes moving us. Set in coastal New England in 1965, it is about two misfit thirteen-year-olds who fall in love (each, it seems, intuiting the other's "misfittedness") and decide to run away together and set up a home/camp where they can live isolated from the world of their parents and other adult authorities. Since the boy, Sam, has survival skills (he runs away from a scout camp) and the girl, Suzy, is as resourceful in her way (she brings the scissors and other things), they do pretty well. Suzy's parents are two lawyers (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) who seem as indifferent to each other as they are to their children, and their marital conversation is mainly about the cases they're working on. The fact that the mother communicates with her children via bullhorn is obviously both funny and pointed. Sam is an orphan in foster care, and Edward Norton is the well-meaning scoutmaster of Sam's troop. These three adults and the local sheriff (Bruce Willis) are the ones who have to deal with the fact that the young people have run off.

All of that seems ordinary enough, but Anderson frames the story in interesting ways, both visually and dramaturgically. The adult world of the scout camp and Suzy's home is presented in terms of a high degree of linear organization: rooms are boxy and behaviour is regimented to a cartoonish extent, and the regimentation of the scout troop is very clear, and the impression that the viewer gets is of two young people trying to get away from life in a cartoon and escape into something more authentic. The parents and scoutmaster are emotionally incompetent to a comic degree, and the only adult who seems to have an inkling of the kind of freer life the young people want is the sheriff, who in a climactic scene faces down Social Services. Tilda Swindon literally calls herself "Social Services" and that tells us all we need to know about the "flattening" of most of the adult figures in the movie. Swindon is marvelous in the role, and Bruce Willis as her antagonist gives a performance of great charm. Bill Murray here has a role that fits well with his usual deadpan affectless schtick, but he remains, for me at least, a very limited actor. In the course of the movie most of the adults unfreeze to some extent. McDormand, who is presented as being drawn to the sheriff, has a touching scene with her daughter at the end.

Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are Sam and Suzy. Neither actually says "There must be more to life than this" as they view the adult world, but the seriousness with which they take both their escape (very carefully planned) and their affection is both funny and endearing. They are trying to act as the kind of adults that they want to be -- not the kinds of adults who have shaped their lives thus far. The deadpan seriousness with which they take all this is funny -- they even go through a form of marriage and unembarassedly acknowledge their sexual feelings, which seem to them to have nothing to do with their love, which has more to do with their mutual recognition as misfits. The young actors pull off Anderson's conceptions of their characters just about perfectly. One way of understanding them, I think, is to say that they want a narrative, and it's no accident that Suzy takes half-a-dozen storybooks along on the escape, and we see her read aloud from them on several occasions. This perhaps clues us to the idea that adult life in the movie has stopped -- it has no ongoing story, at least as far as the young people can perceive, and no story means no future, so they decide to create their own. Maybe with the onset of adolescence we all do this -- adolescent "rebellion" is a bit of a cliche, but here Anderson manages to find a fresh way of representing it. Maybe too the allusions to Britten's children's opera "Noyes Flood" (based on a medieval drama about Noah) are deployed to suggest this: the flood (looked at in one way) is a chance for a new start, and it is seeing Suzy dressed for the part of a raven in a local performance of the opera that wins Sam's heart, so to speak. The movie ends after its own flood (a hurricane), and if Bob Balaban, the narrator who frames the whole story, is to be believed, it ushers in a sense of renewal that extends even to the crops in subsequent years. With that suggestion, Anderson reminds us of the apparent natural magic of renewal, not only in the natural cycle but in the revelations that can follow crises in narratives. (To put it like that sounds heavy-handed, but the movie itself avoids the portentousness that thematic analysis is prone to fall into!)

I'll avoid spoilers, and say nothing about the fact that there are really two escapes, the details of the storm, the scout troop's pursuit of the runaways, or the sheriff's defense of Sam. It's a comic movie, finally, and it clocks in at just about 90 minutes, so it doesn't drag. The degree of stylization with which the adult world is presented keeps us at the distance required to appreciate both the pains of growing up, the dangers of having grown up, and the need to keep open the possibility of change and (if we're lucky) growth.
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on 13 February 2014
To be honest, I really did not know what to make of this film after the first watching.
I enjoyed it, but didn't find it that funny!!!!
The performances from the leads - Willis, Norton, Swinton and Murray are rather sublime but it's the strangely enigmatic acting from the 'young newbies' Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward that steal the show as two pubescent children taking comfort and solace in each others company as they escape the strangeness of their lives. Pursued by their respective so-called "responsible adults", (that's the funny bit, I suppose?), they desperately try to find consolation in an effort to make some sense out of their muddled lives.
I had to watch it three times before I could come to a conclusion - it is a good film; in my opinion a very thought provoking one.
Perhaps I took it too seriously? However, I found it hard not too!
Good film - not what I expected, but I think I got much more out of it because of this.
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on 2 June 2014
Bought this to watch with my grandchildren (10 and 12 years old) during their half term holidays. We all loved it and it kept our attention all the way through. A lovely and engrossing film which I would thoroughly recommend.
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This was a magical film for children and adults. It takes a little magical thinking to transplant yourself back to adolescence. This story all begins on an island, and no one else seems to live there but the people involved.

Suzy, played by Kara Howard lives with her family on this island. She seems to be the 'difficult' one in the family. On the same island is a Boy Scout camp, where Sam, played by Jared Gilman, an orphan, also seems to be the odd man out. No one seems to like him, and strangely he and Suzy met last summer and have planned a rendezvous to run away together. This sets the wheels in motion for an adolescence hunt by some very strange people. Bill Murray plays Suzy's father, and Frances McDormand plays her mother. Any film with McDormand amd Murray is sure to be a great one. We also have Bruce Willis playing the Island Policeman, Scoutman Ward payed by Ed Norton, and SocialServices played by Tilda Swinton. All these characters lead to an often time humorous film that deals with the turmoil of adolescence, the goodness of scouting, and the trials and tribulations of life.

This film is all played with straight faces, none for laughs, and the children are as superb as the adults. Wes Anderson has put together a film for us all, shining examples of life as we remember it.

Recommended. prisrob 04-07-13
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on 23 May 2013
The Indy style movie has become so popular, major studios have copied it. This film has a well written script, effective sound track, excellent acting, background distractions, and of course quirky memorable characters. The film might may be best classified as a light drama, leaning toward comedy.

In this 1965 tale two misfit 12 year kids conspire to run off together. Sam (Jared Gilman) is a teased orphan scout. Suzy (Kara Hayward) is the daughter of two lawyers. They live on a New England island. A search party for the two missing youths is lead by "sad dumb policeman" Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis). Captain Sharp is having an affair with the mother of Suzy (Frances McDormand). Bill Murray plays the rather straight husband.

There is a scene where the two youths get close to each that made me uncomfortable for a moment. Fortunately the scene didn't last long and the film returned to its quirky self, with bits of dark comedy. While it is PG-13, I wouldn't want my 13 year old to watch it. It might give them ideas.

This is Kara Haywood's first full length film. I see a great career for her.

Parental Guide: No words, sex, or nudity. Kara Haywood in bra/undies. Some groping.
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on 24 April 2014
This is a great film and typical of Wes Anderson's usual style and humour so if you like his movies, you wont be disappointed! There's a great adult cast who hold the whole thing together but the child actors do a great job in the two lead roles too. The story is relatively simple, but if you're looking for a good laugh and some odd humour then you'll enjoy this!
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on 8 May 2015
In 2012 there were two films that absolutely charmed the socks off me. One was Beasts of the Southern Wild; the other was Moonrise Kingdom. Now normally, I'm not a big Wes Anderson fan. The only other Anderson film that I thought worth having in my library is Fantastic Mr. Fox. Even the recent Grand Budapest Hotel--for all its spectacular design and artistry--just didn't get to me. But Moonrise Kingdom is such a terrific time trip back to 1965--every detail perfect, in its depiction of a summer holiday island. Moreover, its whimsical and ravishing depiction of very young love--and the huge risks one takes for it--is spot on. The romance of Sam and Suzy is a wonderful portrait of the first clumsy, dazzling infatuation with the opposite sex. Their escape to live in the woods together is classic. And Anderson's cast? To die for! Murray, McDormand, Swinton, Norton, Willis, Keitel, Schwartzman, Balaban, et al. If you love romantic comedy, as I do, you have to have Moonrise Kingdom. One technical caveat, though. Most of the transfer is visually mediocre--not Blu Ray-sharp quality, but ordinary DVD visual quality. Disappointing.
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on 17 May 2013
3 stars is enough. Maybe because I have enough with Wes Anderson, which doesn't mean I don't enjoy his movies or don't appreciate his style anymore, just that I'm kind of fed up with it, because it doesn't take you anywhere, it always goes around in circles, and it really doesn't tell you anything deeper about life or his point of view about life.
It's just nice furniture and wallpaper. Nice to take a look to one time, but not so necesssary that you want to watch it again.
Unfortunately, Wes Anderson world is a dolls house, and, apart from The Royal Tenenbaum, where story and characters still had an inner world and some living drama, here, as also in most of his last films, all you see it is just a mere and superficial repetition of that film schemes and patterns.
You will have fun and sometimes smile, and I hope you'll enjoy the film should you want to buy it: but if you don't, maybe if could be a useful warning to Wes: "grow up or you will only remembered for your look, but not for your feel"
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on 17 July 2014
This film is beautiful to look at, the child leads are excellent - especially the girl, but ultimately I wondered what was the point of this charming but rather slight film. Two disfunctional kids escape the rigours of family/bullying by peers and find demure but true love together. It's engaging but bordered on being twee so I nearly switched it off. Okay as a time filler and for prettiness, but forgettable once it's over.
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on 17 February 2013
I only came upon this film by chance and wow what a surprise it was breathtaking. From opening credits to end credits we sat amazed by the stunning visual feast and the story was pretty cool too. I have since shared this film with a number of people who have all had the same reaction it's awesome see it people and wonder at why the crap that makes money in the big screens s nowhere near as good as this lost gem.
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