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Review: "Moonrise Kingdom"

By Shawn O'Neill

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, June 14 2012 5:21 p.m. MDT

Wes Anderson has a reputation when it comes to films. His films are quirky, brightly colored and often use the same cast members. Bill Murray has done six films with Anderson. His latest work is called “Moonrise Kingdom” and, yes, Murray is in the cast.

This film begins at Camp Ivanhoe where Sam Shakusky (Jared Gillman) has run away from camp using the “Andy Dufresne” poster method, minus the digging. Last year at camp, Sam met Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) when the scouts went to a performance at the local church. He and Suzy hatched an idea to be together by writing letters to each other.

Sam and Suzy meet up as the search for them begins. Scoutmaster Ward (Edward Norton), Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), the local police officer, and Mr. and Mrs. Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) organize to find the preteens.

According to Anderson, this film was born out of the notion of two kids being in love and taking it very seriously. That is where the beauty of this film lies. Each character is played seriously, but comes off as comic. Anderson blends the quirky script with beautiful camera work and makes a wonderful story.

There are portions of the story that are unreal, but they work so well with the parts that could be real it doesn’t matter. Anderson’s choice to set the film in 1965 really helps this story. Plus the narrator (Bob Balaban), giving the audience history lessons about the island, was also a nice touch.

The difficulties in this film come when the two kids go swimming and they hang their clothes out to dry. They innocently start dancing in their underwear, but then they come together and things get a bit uncomfortable. There is some kissing and then at one point Sam is told he can touch Suzy’s chest. The scene does not go further than that, but it still felt weird watching it on-screen.

There are other reasons for the PG-13 rating: A few of the characters smoke in this film though none of the kids are in that group. Some objectionable language can be heard in the film, but not really that much. There is some violence since Suzy is known to freak out at times. Plus there is the death of an animal.

Humor abounds, though it is never abruptly thrown in your face. When there is something funny, none of the characters make note of it. Eventhough it works in this film, some may think it is strange. That is Wes Anderson’s style and it makes this movie fun.

Many people talk about this film as being about family, more specifically the family that you choose. If you want to look that deep, then go ahead. This is simply a fun movie telling a story in a quirky way. It is different and uplifting. If you have not been to a Wes Anderson film, this would be a good start.

Shawn O'Neill is the Family Man Movie Reviewer on BYU Radio. His reviews can be heard on BYURadio.org and on SiriusXM Channel 143.

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