Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

Moonrise Kingdom

Here we have another quirky comedy from the Wizard of the Warped, Wes Anderson, who has brought us such dry inflected silliness as "Rushmore", "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" and the visually exuberant "The Fantastic Mr. Fox". 

In this latest outing Anderson nostalgically encapsulates the events of young love. The candy striped colors and saturations of  green create a kind of Looney Toons version of valentines. There is much colorful voyeurism of cranky gray adults, shown as paper-thin matchsticks, fretting and ogling our apple cheeked young lovers as they scamper about from room to room. Say what you want about Anderson the Obscure, the cinematography has never been more vibrant than here. "Moonrise Kingdom" is a fast moving graphic novel as imagined by Tintin creator Herge, in the style of a whimsical "Rear Window".

Young Suzy (Kara Hayward) starts a pen pal affair with Sam (Jared Gilman) and they agree to flee the shackles of childhood rules and begin a tryst.

"Moonrise Kingdom" would not be so startling were it not for its richness of color and detail or its quirky spunk that will charm your heart with all the gentle irreverence of an old Addams Family episode. Sam and Suzy are prepared for everything before it actually happens, be it the wrath of weather or parents. Sam is a young geeky Gauguin as he paints his young lover on the rocks, while Suzy for her part is an Olive Oyl anarchist fused with a pint sized Anais Nin.  Actor Bill Murray as Suzy's dad shuffles about in a bemused fashion with an ax, invariably rubbing gray sleep from his eyes while Frances McDormand struts about like a mad hen. 
Edward Norton plays the Type A scoutmaster who leads the search. Norton portrays his role a bit like The Man with the Yellow Hat from "Curious George". He also has a bit of Agent Cooper in him, from "Twin Peaks" as he constantly seeks out clues to locate the young Bohemians who are wise beyond their years. 

Some of the Cupid's tale is a bit predictable here---we know we can expect a big storm---but that doesn't matter. We are watching a unique picaresque tale ala "The Little Rascals" with a French existential twist and it will beguile your eyes. It has the flavor of a Pop-Up book by Kierkegaard, yet it is never highbrow. Its philosophy is cute rather than elitist.
Tilda Swinton, always offbeat, does a good turn as the Kafkaesque figurehead Social Services. She is completely coated in imperial blue.

In the film nothing is superfluous, every color and object is labeled with quirk and intention. The action is lively, sweet and lightly subversive. Anderson's oeuvre is to show children as adults and vice versa. In doing this, Anderson never panders or stoops to conquer. Yet the film's most potent wonder is that it adds up to more than its ingredients and remains accessible to all. This inclusion, despite its precocious alphabet-boxing when most everything looks like an Advent calendar, is the film's best Moonrise Surprise.

Write Ian at

1 comment:

Jan Robin said...

I like your association with Hergé.