Here comes a scoutmaster, with no real ability to lead. There goes a cheating housewife, so distant that she communicates through a megaphone. Here comes her idle husband, so dizzy and blind he can’t see what’s right in front of him. Here comes Social Services, wearing the dazzling blue robes of a jailer. There goes an unwanted orphan, determined to blaze his own trail. Here comes his mistress, the raven, who’s nursing a broken wing.
Here they all are, set adrift on Misfit Island, running amuck amidst the same vile storm that’s been threatening for years.
It’s a unique angle, to be sure … albeit not on the cult-classic scale of previous Anderson outings like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. The pacing here is similar, and so is the dialogue. But Moonrise suffers from the obvious drawbacks that arise when casting knee-high leads. This is not to disparage any of the child actors in the film. It is only to acknowledge that they are child actors, after all, tackling some very adult themes.
Yet the beauty of the film is that Anderson manages to keep those themes light. He captures the essence and abandon of first kisses, first love, discovery and danger. And he does it in such a way that it all feels very child-like, without seeming the least bit child-ish.
In the end, Moonrise Kingdom serves as a charming reminder that we spend most of our formative years being told how to act more like adults, and most of our grown-up years trying to recapture that feeling of youth. No matter who you are, or where you’ve been, that cycle inevitably repeats itself, over and over and over again, till you’re lying on your death bed some day, trying to tell anyone who’ll listen, how altogether fleeting and wonderful the whole goddamned thing really was.
Wes Anderson, as usual, is way ahead of the curve on this one.
(Moonrise Kingdom opens in limited release in theaters across the country today.)