Moonrise Kingdom: New Penzance Island Summer 1965 (2012)

Posted: June 28, 2012 in Comedy, Drama, Romance

Both feeling like outcasts in their lives, Sam and Suzy devise a plan to run away from there respective lives and see if they have potential as a couple. While their initial escape is unnoticed, Scout Master Ward discovers the hole in Sam’s tent and contacts the local police. Along with Captain Sharp, they begin the search to find Sam, not knowing yet that Suzy left home as well. When Laura Bishop realizes her daughter is missing and has run off with Sam, the entire island goes on the search for the runaways. As they travel through the woods, they discover all they have in common and grow closer as a couple. After escaping near capture, social services is called in to take custody of Sam after his foster parents have decided to relinquish their guardianship. Though initially captured, the pair devise a new plan to run off together and start a new life.

Starring: Bruce Willis (Captain Sharp), Edward Norton (Scout Master Ward), Jared Gilman (Sam), Kara Hayward (Suzy), Bill Murray (Walt Bishop), Frances McDormand (Laura Bishop), Bob Balaban (Narrator), Tilda Swinton (Social Services), Jason Schwartzman (Cousin Ben), Harvey Keitel (Commander Pierce)

In true Wes Anderson style, the characters all have a certain maturity and stoic element to their demeanor. Jared Gilman is reminiscent of a younger Jason Schwartzman, who also happens to appear in this film. Kara Hayward has potential in her ability to exhibit that high level of seriousness, but she also represents a dry humor that gives her a little levity. Bruce Willis has received a lot of attention for his role, mostly because he plays the simple police officer with a level of smoothness and sophistication. Bob Balaban is the most amusing character with his stoic narration throughout the film.


In terms of the storyline, there is a freshness and simplicity to the overall story while a great complexity lies under the surface with regards to the character development. There is a star-crossed lovers feel to the development of the relationship between Sam and Suzy, mostly in the way the two are hunted for running off together. Both characters have an out-of-control element to their personalities but seem to be emotionally subdued when they are together. The side story with Captain Sharp and Laura Bishop gets some good attention with their hidden romance, but there is also an emptiness in how it just fizzles out part of the way through the film. On the other hand, the searches led up by Sharp and Scout Master Ward are rather amusing, as both characters exhibit an expertise while also seeming like they are also at a loss with how they are tricked by young children. Just as entertaining was the transforming relationship between Sam and the Khaki Scouts, as they go from dislike without reason to support with understanding.


Though the film is set in the 1960s, it has an artistic flair to its presentation. The panning camera shots, particularly in the Bishop house, are almost like an episode of This American Life. There are a number of classic Wes Anderson elements throughout the film with the character presentation, vivid use of colors and the calming sound mixing style. He tosses in some moments of surprise and high energy, most notably the standoff in the woods and the rescue during the deluge. It is easy to dismiss this film due to its subtle comedic style, but it works as long as this director is at the helm.

Moonrise Kingdom is a smart but simple, lovely but at time gritty childhood romance. There are a few moments of shock but mostly a humorous budding relationship between two loving but disturbed children.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5


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