By now you've probably heard enough about Wes Anderson's marvelous Moonrise Kingdom to know whether it's your cup of java or no. I'm going out on a very short limb by pronouncing it The Best Romantic Comedy of 2012 Thus Far (not a lot of competition there, sadly), but it's obviously more than that.
For one thing, this story of 12 year-old runaways in love is one of the best evocations of the peculiar, sweetly melancholic joys of passionate misfit-ism I've seen in years. Like the relationship between Sam and Suzy, it exists so far outside the current mainstream of movie concerns that it's like an exotic island unto itself. And for all its sweetness and fancifulness, this is actually a pretty transgressive piece of work, but as someone who was once a 15 year-old in love with a 13 year-old, I won't be calling the authorities.
The movie is also an excuse to enjoy a little more Bill Murray screen time - always a pleasure - and thus, a little more Bill Murray wisdom (e.g. this fun interview here). Moonrise adds at least one great Murray Moment to the extant canon: Anyone who's got a GIF of him saying, "I'll be out back, I'm gonna find a tree to chop down," please send it here.
Meanwhile: Those of you who've never cottoned to the Wes Anderson thing can call the movie "twee" all you like, but criticizing his work for being too arch, stylized, or cerebral at this late date is a bit like knocking peanut butter for being too full of peanuts. And sure, if you don't enjoy a character (a scoutmaster, no less) saying, "Jiminey Cricket, they've flown the coop!" with a straight face, by all means, move along.
Still, even reading the script as a studio submission teared me up, so Anderson fans can be assured that, OCD camera placements aside, this is the most directly emotional work he's done since Rushmore. For the record, I gave the screenplay a "Consider" for Uni Focus, and I'm sure Uni Focus thanks me very much (insert "wry sarcasm" emoticon here).
Anderson has always been one of our most European of American directors, which makes his work seem all the more anachronistic in 2012. But isn't that a good thing? Though a fellow story analyst affectionately referred to Moonrise as "an art-house Blue Lagoon," it struck me as being more like Anderson's Pierrot Le Fou, only minus the gun-runners and the nihilism. At any rate, the writer-director's assured mise en scene makes you feel like you're in good hands from the first shot to the last, and I forgive him the film's minor excessive indulgences (too much Benjamin Britten, dude!).
The casting is dreamy, with an exceptionally nuanced Bruce Willis forming an emotional bridge between the worlds of the adults and the adolescents, and newcomers Kara Heyward and Jared Gilman making memorable debuts (Heyward, methinks, may be with us for awhile). And did I mention Bill Murray is in this? Let's give him the last word: