I hate Wes Anderson films. His comedies never seem to achieve anything beyond slight amusement, and his films are set in worlds and populated with people that I despise. I think that he, more than anyone else, is responsible for the destruction of Bill Murray. I don’t “get” Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums, and I absolutely hated The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Moonrise Kingdom falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.
The film is set on the reasonably large island of New Penzance in the mid 1960s. There is a fair amount of wilderness on the island, and a Khaki Scout troop is taking advantage of that for a summer camp, but there are also a handful of permanent residents, including Walt and Laura Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and their children. A year ago, Khaki Scout Sam (Jared Gilman) met Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) and they hit it off right away. They forged a pen pal relationship, which they used to formulate a plan to run away together.
When the time arrives, Sam sneaks out of camp and Suzy from her house. They’re both discovered missing the next morning, and an all-out search is initiated, including the members of the scout troop and local police officer Duffy Sharp (Bruce Willis). But Sam, who is an adept woodsman in addition to being an orphan that doesn’t get along well with the other scouts, doesn’t really want to be caught and will do his best to evade capture. That won’t be easy with Suzy, though, because neither her attire nor her luggage are particularly well suited for the wilderness.
Anderson’s touch is immediately apparent in the film’s visual style. The camera angles are too “dead on”, and he attempts to screw with your sense of proportion by having oversized objects in small rooms and a very deep focus. People wear unrealistic outfits and speak with unnatural dialogue. His adoration for hipster culture is annoying in modern times and completely out of place for the 1965 environment in which the film was set.
Moonrise Kingdom is purportedly a comedy, but I didn’t find anything in it to be all that funny. Nearly all of the laughs coming from the audience are at scenes which are included in the trailer, which suggests that either the majority of the audience hadn’t seen the trailer at all and were experiencing everything fresh or were simply laughing at what was already familiar to them. Although I frequently avoid trailers as part of my moviegoing experience, this does not seem to be a common practice among the general public, so I’m guessing it’s more the latter than the former. And if you have seen the trailer, then not only have you already experienced the majority of the supposed-to-be-funny scenes, but also the majority of the film’s plot.
I really wanted to like Moonrise Kingdom. The breadth of my taste in film has grown substantially over the last couple of years, and it really seems like people truly love his work. But I am not one of those people. I still hate Wes Anderson films.