One of the first "indie" directors I got into was Wes Anderson. I saw Bottle Rocket in 1996 when I was 16-years-old and the tone and look of the film spoke to me. It was funny, sensitive and unique. I was so in love with it that I even joined an online fan club for it called "The Lawn Wranglers." It turned me into an Anderson fan for life, however in recent years I grew less impressed with his work. Perhaps it's because very little has changed about them since Bottle Rocket. But you know what they say, "If it ain't broke...don't fix it."
Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson's 7th feature film and probably his best. I know how steep of a statement that is; remember this is coming from a fan. The Royal Tenebaums is probably in my Top 25 Favorite Films, or at least it was. The film stars two 13-year-old total film fledglings named Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman who are two kids in love who decide the only way they can be together is to run away together. Just like what Anderson did with actor Jason Swartzman (who's interviewed below), he introduces the cinematic world to these young newbies and makes them seem like they've been doing it forever.
Both of them are fantastic. They capture the same deadpan seriousness that Anderson has made a characteristic of all his young characters. In fact, they seem to do it better than anyone else ever has. They also operate around the stellar cast like they aren't some of the biggest and most notable people working in Hollywood - Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, etc. They drift in and out of every scene with these heavy-hitters and still maintain the center of attention.
The entire cast is one of pure comedic excellence. Everyone in it is fantastic and bring something different to their character. That's totally a rare thing for a Wes Andersome film since all of his characters seem like they're all weird cousins of each other...even the animated ones. The standard dialogue that doesn't seem to be natural or realistic is still there but there's more to it in Moonrise Kingdom. It's refreshing to see that Anderson allowed them to have that freedom this time around and it paid off in spades.
Although Wes Anderson films have become less special to me the older I get, Moonrise Kingdom brought me back to the fold. His films feel less unique now and more pretentious, precious and privileged, but this film has so much heart and sweetness to it, it's almost impossible to not enjoy. It's rare that the Oscar race starts off in Summer, but I think I just heard the starting pistol. Moonrise Kingdom (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A