Skip over navigation

9 Reasons We Saw Moonrise Kingdom (and You Should Too)

9 Reasons We Saw Moonrise Kingdom (and You Should Too)

By Brandon Specktor



1. Because Wes Anderson just keeps getting more Wes Andersony

Royal Tenenbaums/Life Aquatic/Fantastic Mr. Fox imaginographer Wes Anderson has greater onscreen vision and OCD attention to detail than any working director. His only modern competition is maybe Quentin Tarantino, but the key difference is you can take your date to see a Wes Anderson movie without worrying about any weird sex stuff or nazi haircuts to kill the mood—plus you get to learn how a symphony works! Moonrise Kingdom is basically Wes Anderson's Inglourious Basterds: an extravagant end-of-semester statement that sums up everything Wes' learned about making awesome indie magic so far, set in the densest, highest-stakes environment yet. Are there slow-motion walkin' away sequences? Yerp. Comic montages? Duh. Daddy drama in awesomely retro fashion? You betcher sweet Bill Murray! Oh, also Bill Murray…

2. Because it makes Twee Love timeless

The endearing rebel romance of 12-year-old heroes Suzy (Kara Hayward, always smirking) and Sam (Jared Gilman, always coonskin cap'd) is exactly the kind of love we wish we could've made work when we were tweens. Both kids are labeled "troubled" (see: "they like to punch and burn things") by their peers and parents on the island of New Penzance, but when a tropical storm blows in gusty havoc and a haboob of bad vibes, Sam and Suzy's affection for each other proves stronger than a bajillion horcruxes. Wes Anderson somehow makes their untouchable puppylove into a romantic ideal relevant to 12-year-olds and 122-year-olds alike. And it's adorable.

3. Because the supporting cast includes Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and a kid with an eyepatch

Bruce Willis is a lovelorn pushover and the only police officer on New Penzance. Edward Norton is a dorky Khaki Scout counselor who mobilizes his cadets like a military platoon when Sam goes AWOL. Tilda Swinton is a coldhearted social services representative who dresses like an Air Hogwarts flight attendant. Bill Murray is Suzy's sad sack daddy and broods shirtless into the camera for a while. Jason Schwartzman is a skeezy Khaki counselor who eventually teaches Sam and Suzy about the gravity of marriage. The kid in the eye patch is just a kid in an eyepatch. But he's great too.

4. Because we want to go to there

The forested shores of New Penzance that stage Sam and Suzy's forbidden romance actually exist somewhere in Newport, Rhode Island, but we'd much rather visit Wes' fantasy island archipelago populated by (fake) Khaki Scout outposts, acres of (also fake) Chickchaw Indian territory, and the finest resort/casino in the (fake-fakeddy-fake) Black Beacon Sound. But don't just take our word—take a tour!

5. Because these shots are more beautiful than anything you will ever see in 3D, probably

Wes is notorious for storyboarding every shot in his movies with obsessive, gorgeous detail. Striking foregrounds, dynamic backgrounds and creative framing make every second of Moonrise Kingdom pop with the busy beauty of a Where's Waldo mural on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, assuming there's enough room on the ceiling of Sistine Chapel for a zipline course and fireworks.

6. Because the soundtrack is…surprising (!)

For this story set in the '60s Wes shows some shocking restraint by withholding his usual Kinks and Stones-heavy tastes for some Hank Williams country bummers and a Frenchified beach bop. But most powerful is the elaborate orchestral piece that starts and ends the film, and the ghostly youth choruses that build and swell with story action. By framing Sam and Suzy's tweemance as an operatic epic, Wes gives Moonrise an early booster shot for entering the indie geek canon.

7. Because we want to read Suzy's YA novel collection

The Girl from Jupiter, The Francine Odysseys, and The Disappearance of the 6th Grade—YA fantasies that Suzy occasionally reads from and, once, lulls an entire Khaki Scout brigade to sleep with—aren't real. But they should be.

8. Because best. Treehouse. Ever.

Right?

9. Because it's the only movie that came out this week that isn't a sequel, threequel or adaptation

Well, except for Chernobyl Diaries. But somehow a Ukrainian Mutant makeout sesh just doesn't push our pubescent cutebuttons the same way, you know. Does that make us hipsters?

What do you think, Khaki Heads? Will you see Moonrise Kingdom?

Topics: Celebs & Stuff
Tags: movies, lists, reviews, wes anderson, moonrise kingdom, indie film

Write your own comment!


Write your own comment!


About the Author
Brandon Specktor

Brandon is a writer and humor editor at Reader's Digest magazine. He was born in Tucson, Arizona, and wants to write a paranormal Western that begins, "First the cows turned up dead." What should the rest be about? Tell him on twitter @beardspeck.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.

From Our Partners