In Select Theatres May 25, 2012
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Reviews

MK Rolling Stone
Peter Travers
"Hilarious & heartfelt! A dream cast with Bill Murray and Bruce Willis."
In the immaculately designed, emotionally charged bubble filmmaker Wes Anderson builds around the 1965 New England summer, first love blooms. Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphan at the mercy of foster parents and his Scout troop. Suzy (Kara Hayward) lives in a lighthouse with three younger brothers, two lawyer parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and an urge to bust free. Anderson, who wrote the resonant script with Roman Coppola, knows their secret hearts. So when the kids run away to an island they call Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson is right there with them. And thanks to this enchanted ride of a movie, so are we. To my mind, Anderson is creative oxygen. Moonrise Kingdom shows a director growing in confidence and maturity. He is also expert at using humor as a gateway to deeper feelings. The gifted newcomers Gilman and Hayward stay allergic to sweet and cute, catching the exhilaration and cartwheeling confusion of being young and in thrall to each other. Adults soon intrude on their paradise. There’s a hurricane coming, announces the film’s narrator (a delightful Bob Balaban). The scoutmaster (an engagingly wacked-out Edward Norton) organizes a search party with the help of his chief (Harvey Keitel) and cousin Ben, a scam artist in scout’s clothing played by a stellar Jason Schwartzman, evoking his iconic role as Max Fischer in Rushmore. The police captain (a becomingly non-macho Bruce Willis) is also on the case, pressured by Suzy’s mom, with whom he’s having an affair. The dream cast, including Tilda Swinton as a character called Social Services, may be star overload, but each actor performs small miracles. Murray and McDormand excel at showing a faltering marriage in microcosm. Anderson links the everyday and the extraordinary with virtuoso artistry. Shot with a poet’s eye by Robert Yeoman and lifted by an Alexandre Desplat score that samples Mozart, Hank Williams and Benjamin Britten, the hilarious and heartfelt Moonrise Kingdom is a consistent pleasure. By evoking the joys and terrors of childhood, it reminds us how to be alive.
MK LA Times
Betsy Sharkey
"Casts a magical spell. A tale about growing up and falling in love."
It seems fitting that ‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ arguably Wes Anderson's most grown-up film yet, is a warm and funny fable about kids on the cusp. Here the writer-director's tendency toward the allegorical casts a magical spell with Anderson finding a near perfect balance between the humanism and the surreal that imprints all of his work. In this tale about growing up and falling in love, it seems Anderson has found his true heart. In Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward we have rare young talents who don't need words to communicate what they're feeling. It's a top-notch ensemble. The musical choices, with Randall Poster as music supervisor, and original music by Alexandre Desplat, are so inventive they become their own narrative force. Bruce Willis gives one of his most sensitive turns in years as the dense but sweet Captain Sharp. The sets, with Adam Stockhausen in charge of production design, are a study in found objects perfectly placed. All that attention to detail that Anderson is known for is recorded in sweeping and often unbroken shots by cinematographer Robert Yeoman, who brings a kind of softness to "Moonrise." There are classic Anderson touches — the Scouts' tents precisely spaced, like ducks in a row, or the tree house, high on a pole, no tree in sight. Though there are countless small, meaningful touches in nearly every scene, everything about "Moonrise" is spare. The dialogue is exceedingly crisp, often delivered in short bursts. It works especially well when the grown-ups are sorting out what to do with the youngsters at the various crises points along the way — difficult, life-changing decisions in the offing. That spareness gives "Moonrise" an appealing briskness and pragmatism too that helps keep the many complicating factors from weighing things down. It is just one of the many ways in which Anderson keeps the film's emotions in check, ensuring this very heartfelt film never gets anywhere near mush.
MK San Francisco Chronicle
Amy Biancolli
MK 5 stars
"Perfection!"
5 stars! ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ opens on the colorful knit portrait of a beachside manse, and there's no better intro to this bright, bewitching island fable streaked with yellow. It's an adventure, a love story, a biblical allegory complete with approaching storm, a mash note to composer Benjamin Britten and a profoundly touching discourse on the needs of troubled children. In ‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ all of writer/director Wes Anderson's habits and gifts coalesce on a film that conjures the fairy-tale strangeness of everyday life. The world of fictitious New Penzance Island is as artificial, whimsical and precisely assembled as any other in Anderson's oeuvre, but it breathes. Anderson's screenplay, co-written with Roman Coppola, is orchestrated as meticulously as the myriad Britten works excerpted on the soundtrack: Its colors, themes, characters and precisely calibrated dollhouse camerawork build to a tutti as thundering as any symphony's. Those might be woodwinds we hear, or they might be the deft phrasing of fine supporting turns by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as Suzy's muddled parents. The formality of ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ - the orderly structure and dreamlike perfection of it all - is as poetic as any film I've seen this year.
MK The New York Times
Manohla Dargis
"Wondrously beautiful. One of Wes Anderson’s supreme achievements."
Critic’s Pick! Like many of Mr. Anderson’s films, including his last one, the truly fantastic “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” there’s a deliberate, self-conscious once-upon-a-time quality to “Moonrise Kingdom.” From the minute the film opens, quickly settling on a needlepoint image of a house — a representation of the one in which Suzy lives, where it all begins — Mr. Anderson, who’s more fabulist than traditional realist, underscores the obvious point that you’re watching a story. This heightened sense of self-awareness is underscored by the exhilarating camera movements that sweep across the house from right to left, left to right, and up and down, and take you on a time and space tour through the house, past Suzy’s father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand, both touching). A marvel of choreographed motion, machine and human, this overture introduces the Bishops, suggesting who they are and what they’re like (the books indicate that this is a reading family), and some crucial leitmotifs. A pair of binoculars points to the coming adventure (and suggests a far-reaching vision), and a kitten alludes to the vulnerability of the future adventurers. The children and parents are in separate rooms, a spatial configuration that underscores that they might as well inhabit separate universes (which they do). Anderson makes personal, rather than industrial, films that don’t look, move or feel like anyone else’s. The people in his work, their passions and dramas, are true and recognizable — and rarely more deeply felt than in “Moonrise Kingdom” — but they exist in a world apart, one made with extraordinary detail, care and, I think, love by Mr. Anderson.
MK Time Magazine
Richard Corliss
"Infused with radiant life!"
Considerable appeal. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both new to the screen, must feel their way to acting as Sam and Suzy grope toward love; the two performers’ are as naïve and winning as the characters are solemn, willful and 12. Cheers for a Cannes director who has infused his technical mastery with radiant life.
MK USA Today
Claudia Puig
"Magical! Edward Norton is hilarious."
Literate and magical, Moonrise Kingdom is quintessential Wes Anderson. The director's best film since 1998's Rushmore, it features Bill Murray in a key role. A lyrical blend of wit, whimsy and woe is Anderson's trademark, and Moonrise Kingdom is no exception. With its focus on a pair of 12-year-olds, the film has the quality of an offbeat fairy tale that is both meticulously detailed and dreamlike. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are well-suited for their roles, though Hayward looks more like a Lolita-esque 14-year-old, and Gilman could pass for 10. But their mismatched quality is part of the quirky charm of the film. Ed Norton is hilarious as the chain-smoking leader of Sam's Khaki Scout troop. Bruce Willis is wonderfully low-key as the town's lonely, well-meaning sheriff. Suzy and Sam trudge off into the woods and set up camp, with an endearing blend of moxie and defiance. Their interactions are tenderly funny. Adult cluelessness and the clash between children and those tasked to care for them are recurring Anderson themes. His stylized tale comes off like an enchanting storybook fantasy with coming-of-age emotional depth. With music by composer Benjamin Britten offering a dramatic counterpoint, Anderson weaves a sweetly compassionate tale of troubled kids and young love. Marked by a lovely wistful quality, Moonrise Kingdom is an enchanting song of innocence and experience.
MK Vanity Fair
A.M. Holmes
"A brilliantly charming celebration of life’s journey!"
Writer/director Wes Anderson combines good old-fashioned make-believe and stylized magic realism into a spirited adventure. Against the backdrop of an idyllic island and an impending end-of-summer story, Bob Balaban provides the narration with a deft combination of Weather Channel reporter and garden gnome. Edward Norton is Scoutmaster Ward, Tilda Swinton plays a social-services worker, and Bruce Willis delivers a tenderhearted turn as Captain Sharp, the police officer investigating the kid’s disappearance. Infused with a deep sense of film and literary history from Salinger’s Holden Caulfield to Charlie Brown cartoons, Harold and Maude, Pierrot le Four and Summer of ’42 the world Anderson creates remains deeply his own. In his exploration of the inescapable awkward passage from youth to adulthood, from innocence to knowing, and the competing desires for family and belonging versus independence and autonomy, Anderson has produced a brilliantly charming celebration of life’s journey.
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