Grade: A+

I actually saw this movie a couple of weeks ago, but haven't had time to write about it until now. Wes Anderson, the intrinsic mind behind some of the strangest, but innovative, independent films of all time (like, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic), creates his first truly kid universe with this story of survival for life and love's sake.
The film follows a pair of young lovers separated only by the distance from one shore of a New England island to the other. Through letter writing, the two arrange a rendezvous point and send the whole island in a frenzy to search for them. One thing leads to another and, by the time the credits are ready to roll, excitement, slap-stick, and good morale have all made their appearances.
Anderson pulled from his usual casting choices for this film, enlisting the likes of Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman to bring to life a collection of zany, brilliant 1960's characters. Bruce Willis and Edward Norton add fun to the mix. But, the true stars are the newcomers. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward play the star-crossed lovers Sam and Suzy, respectively. Their sheer innocence and determination is the driving force behind each element. If it weren't for their true conviction in the roles, we wouldn't care so much about their search for freedom. Thanks, in part, to the current rise in the hipster realm of people, it makes sense for these two pre-adolescents to enjoy frolicking on the beach in their underwear while discussing literature and listening to French pop music. The joy with and Anderson film is that, throughout the whole process, we're treated to exciting visuals and importance in every single detail, from dialogue to costuming and props.
Anderson's movies, while somewhat over-the-top in style, always have an element of "realism", and it's never more apparent than in Moonrise Kingdom. We've all experienced moments of true abandon like Sam and Suzy are experiencing. That's why we fight right along with them, becoming kids again as we feast our eyes on the yellow/blue filter of Anderson's New England world.
Coming-of-age stories always have a place in my movie radar and Moonrise Kingdom is one of the better pieces of film-as-art I've seen in a while. Anderson delivers a style completely his own each and every time he comes up to bat, but he never strays from being unique, as well.
Moonrise Kingdom is fun, adventurous, and stylish. I wouldn't be surprised to heard it's name called with a few awards this coming season. It's been a while since the Academy has had a true, feel-good adventure to reward.

Rated: PG-13
Run time: 94 minutes

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