3 1/2 stars
Nothing in a
The storybook quality to his films is either coy or entrancing, depending on your receptiveness to Anderson's comic spark and his sharply angled, presentational arrangements of actors against some of the most rigorous design you'll find in a contemporary American filmmaker. Within that strange formalism, though -- and this is what saves his best work from preciousness -- lies some wonderfully rich comedy as well as a sweet-and-sour sincerity familiar to anyone who's seen Anderson's masterwork, "Rushmore," or his most recent picture, the animated "Fantastic Mr. Fox."
That last picture took me a re-viewing to figure out, in terms of tone, and to fully enjoy, and for other people the same may be true of Anderson's latest, the sweetly yearning "Moonrise Kingdom." It's a fable about what it feels like to be 12 years old and afflicted, from head to toe, by a romantic crush the size of a planet.
The film takes place on the (fictional) island of New Penzance, somewhere off the coast of
The movie includes what might be termed action sequences: a digitally enhanced hurricane and flood intercut with scenes from a Noah's Ark pageant, a rooftop rescue, that sort of thing. I'm not sure how much facility Anderson has for that sort of thing. Also, while the kids (particularly Hayward) are effective playing cusp-adolescents taking a poetic leap into cusp-adulthood, that deadpan Anderson style occasionally comes at the expense (it's deliberate, I think) of simple, directly expressed emotion. The second time through "Fantastic Mr. Fox," I appreciated how seriously the film took the father/son issues and misunderstood-offspring angst at the center. Which is to say: just seriously enough. At times in "Moonrise Kingdom," I had an itch for more.
And yet there is so much to appreciate. First-time Anderson performers such as Willis, McDormand and especially Norton fold effortlessly into the melancholy end-of-summer vibe. The script, which Anderson wrote with
We make our own maps to the future, and even though New Penzance isn't real, Anderson's realization thereof makes this seductive illusion stick.
MPAA rating: PG-13 (for sexual content and smoking).
Running time: 1:34.
Credits: Directed by
"Moonrise Kingdom" Movie Trailer
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