My friends abandoned me in the theatre when we all saw The Royal Tenenbaums in 2001. I stayed, in stitches for most of the film. I guess at 20, I was way ahead of my peers in taste. Three years later, I dragged my dad, brothers and uncle to The Life Aquatic. I think I’m the only one who liked that, too. Having learned my lesson, I saw Wes Anderson’s latest movie, Moonrise Kingdom, alone this afternoon. I didn’t love it, which can only mean one thing:
With no one accompanying me to suffer the disappointment of underwhelming humor, obtuse sight gags and a so-so quirky character-driven story, the curse was placed upon me.
Moonrise was okay, don’t get me wrong, but I had hoped for a lot more. It wasn’t Men in Black III disappointing – not by a longshot – but I thought it lacked some of the memorable minutiae I’ve come to expect from Anderson. Or maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough.
The story occurs in 1965, maybe New England, featuring a 12 year-old scout (Jared Gilman) and his tween girlfriend, running away from the dysfunction of the adult world. It’s a nice little thing, with a star-studded line-up consisting of Ed Norton (Scoutmaster Ward), Bruce Willis (police Captain Sharp) and Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as the Bishops, parents to runaway Suzy (played by Kara Hayward). There is even a memorable appearance by Anderson regular Jason Schwartzmann, and inexplicably, a cameo by Harvey Keitel, who I guess really likes popping up in movies.
TANGENT: That really is a good gig, though. Show up for a day, get some free tuna-stuffed avocados at catering, take off, and stay in the public conscience.
Moonrise Kingdom has the look and vibe of a Wes Anderson movie. Familiar faces, a retro, yellowish hue, weird kids, unexplained visuals (the kid with the eyepatch… I LOVE how Anderson lets the audience put together their own backstories)… but I don’t know, something was just a little off. Or maybe it’s a case of been-there, done-that.
I don’t think this movie is for everyone, so if you’re not already an Anderson fan, this probably won’t sway you his way. For me, it was worth the matinee price, but I could have waited for the late night HBO showing in 6 months.