Quirks flow in sea of whimsy
HE ‘‘quirky’’ quotient in Moonrise Kingdom is off the charts, even for Wes Anderson.
Anderson is, after all, the director of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Moonrise Kingdom is set largely on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, when children pass the time with jacks, board games, vinyl records and ping-pong. Except for Suzy (Kara Hayward), who spends her days with her nose in a fantasy novel and a pair of binoculars around her neck, ignoring her three brothers and lawyer-parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand).
A year earlier at a church pageant, she met fellow misfit, Sam (Jared Gilman), 12, and their correspondence escalated to plans to run away – possibly thanks to Sam’s skills as a boy scout.
The movie opens with Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) discovering Sam isn’t in his tent, contacting the local police captain (Bruce Willis) and launching a search that broadens to include Suzy. A sophisticated runaway, Suzy totes a gold suitcase full of hardback books, a record player so she can listen to Francoise Hardy, a kitten and a red plaid bag.
Sam and Suzy have the sort of fantasy adventure usually featured in one of her library books, complete with a summer romance and magical escape, an orphan, secrets brought to light, a brewing storm, an act of heroism and mild violence with scissors, arrows and a shoe.
Written by Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom floats along on a sea of whimsical and period-centric details: a coonskin cap, a manual typewriter, animal costumes for a Noah’s Ark pageant and a bullhorn used to summon children inside a house.
The young leads are surrounded by Norton, Murray, McDormand, Willis, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel and Bob Balaban (as a narrator).
Some of the adults are more interesting than the kids, but you barely get to know them.
Anderson’s movies are marked by eccentricity and offbeat charm, but there’s usually a layer of something deeper underneath. Moonrise Kingdom features characters stung by loss, infidelity and disappointment, but it tilts toward the hope of young love, innocence, second chances and lots of quirks.
Kara Hayward, as Suzy, and Jared Gilman, as Sam, in Wes Anderson’s