June 12th, 2012

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Moonrise Kingdom

I suppose I could technically file this one with the Edward Norton project, even though it's a new release. I actually considered waiting until the end of the project (at this rate, I should be done within a week or so) but I dont like holding off on high priority movies for more than two weeks. I'm stubborn.

I first heard about Moonrise Kingdom from Ed's twitter. I cant remember what he tweeted, a poster or something. First thought was "huh". My feelings towards Wes Anderson are similar to my feelings on Woody Allen (wow, same initials, mind = blown). Dont care too much for his work, but appreciate its artistic value, and if given the opportunity, I wouldn't hesitate to work with him. I had an apprehensive feeling of "ugh, Ed why do ya hafta be in this movie because now I'll hafta see it". Coming out of the movie, that changed to a "thanks, Mr Norton, or else I'd have never seen this"

Here's my deal with Anderson. I've seen a few of his movies and didnt quite get them. His stuff is often touted as dark comedy, a genre that I \m/ love. However, before I knew better, I expected more comedy (Death to Smoochy style) and got mostly dark. On top of that, there's this awkward vibe to his movies. You can tell that he thinks something is funny, but can't figure out if the actors are in on the joke or maybe are too far in on the joke. Maybe they are so convinced it's funny, but they forget to convey it to the audience. I dont know. It's just weird. I watched Royal Tenenbaums multiple times hoping I'd just missed something, or that it would just click and I'd understand it. I gave up. I enjoyed Fantastic Mr Fox, but that was such a different animal (pun not entirely intended) it hardly counts. Moonrise Kingdom, finally a step in the right direction.

Things just seemed to fall into place more this time around. It was still _very_ Wes Anderson, but by now I can appreciate a lot of it. I loved the quirky shots and the detailed sets and props and the neurotic characters. The tone balance was much improved too. Instead of a dark undertone with moments of levity, this film had a brighter feel with interspersed dark moments. It was actually kinda cute, but just the right amount of little bit messed up. A lot of that came from the fact that a majority of the cast was prepubescent. You're not exactly gonna have Tenenbaum storylines with a bunch of kids.

The cast was fantastic as well. I absolutely adored our lead couple, Sam and Suzy, played by newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. I was actually half convinced thru the whole thing that Gilman is Glenn on Mad Men, but he's not. Just similiarly misunderstood characters who happen to look alike. Hayward's expressions were just priceless throughout. The kids were precocious without being annoying, and outcast enough to be relatable for me at least.

Okay, Edward Norton gets his own paragraph because, well, this is my blog. He was certainly my fave character, but I suppose he was at an unfair advantage for that. Of all the veteran cast members, none chewed more scenery than our boy Ed, and no one seemed to have more fun than he did. We haven't seen this caliber of character acting from him since Death to Smoochy, and I love it. He seems to be back on track after a few questionable movie choices in the recent path. With a spot in the new Bourne coming up, he certainly looks to continue that pattern.

The other adults were fun and quirky as well: Bill Murray, Francis McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Bruce Willis. All very well suited for their roles and for the world of Anderson. Also, major bonus points for the score. I'd bet the music sounds strange out of context, but it fit the feel of the movie quite well.

Moonrise Kingdom - \m/ \m/ \m/ \n