Moonrise Kingdom (PG-13)
Criterion; Focus Features; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; StudioCanal; TV Tropes; Universal; Wes Anderson Wiki; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Peacock; Vudu; YouTube
This film was directed and co-written by Wes Anderson, an auteur whose name I've been vaguely aware of since at least the late 90s, and I've wanted to see at least some of his films before this one, but this is, I think, the first one I actually saw (a couple of years after it was first released). There are a few categories in which I could have placed my review, such as "period pieces" (because it's set in 1965) or "coming of age," but I think "quirky" best suits it. The movie has a pretty good cast of familiar actors for the adult roles, but the most important roles are a pair of 12-year-old kids, played by newcomers. And I must say, there's something very natural about the kids' performances. I feel like they were a bit stilted, but not in a bad acting way. There are shows and movies where young actors talk in a way that bears no relation to the way anyone in the world talks, but these kids... the way they talked maybe wasn't quite normal, but I still felt it was completely realistic. Especially for 1965 (which is, of course, ten years before I was born, so I can't speak from firsthand knowledge).
Anyway, there's a girl named Suzy Bishop (whose parents are played by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), and a boy named Sam Shakusky (an orphan whose most recent foster parents decide they don't want him back, after he runs away). Both kids are emotionally disturbed loners, but clearly not crazy. Sam was at a summer camp that's part of an organization called the Khaki Scouts, where none of the other scouts liked him. The camp is on a small island called New Penzance, where Suzy lives with her parents and younger brothers. There's a flashback scene to the two kids meeting, briefly, a year ago, when Suzy was involved in a local church theater production which I thought seemed much more elaborate than one would expect, for the venue. I really would've liked to see that whole show. But anyway, since then they've been secretly exchanging letters, and now they run away together. (They think they're in love, and honestly, I find it more believable with these kids than I do with most romcoms about adults.) Suzy's parents are anxious to find her, and the Khaki scout master, Randy Ward (Edward Norton), is anxious to find Sam. Also involved in the search is the local police captain, Duffy Sharp (Bruce Willis), who, coincidentally, has been having an affair with Suzy's mother. Anyway, Randy gets his whole troop involved in the search.
Um... I'm not quite sure what else to say. There's just so much stuff going on with the plot, and it's all kind of crazy, in a way that I sort of recognize as very Andersonian, in spite of not having actually seen any of his other films. Stuff just keeps happening, and I just keep going "What?!" And for the most part, it's friggin' awesome. Like, damn, this is about my favorite kind of insanity, and I can't even describe it. It's all just clever and weird and quirky and weird and natural and weird and sort of sweet, and hilarious. And in case I didn't mention it, weird. And amazing.
You know what? I posted a link (as I usually do) to my review on facebook. And a bit later I added a comment which I decided to come back and edit into this review: "If this had been set in the 90s or later, Suzy would have been a goth chick. As is, we're lucky we briefly got to see her as a raven."