Moonrise Kingdom is all about that summer you wish you had. Running away with that cute girl you just met, or have been corresponding with, not having any sort of plan, but knowing that whatever you’re doing, it’s amazingly great because you’re with her. The film touches on so many niche genres and distinct “Wes Anderson” themes like young love, screwed up families, quirky characters, an expansive colour palette, and of course, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman pop up in places. These all roll up into a nice ball, and contribute to a quieter, smaller Anderson film, if you can believe that his films could even get more quieter and smaller.
I don’t want to say that this seems like his one of his most personal films, because all of his films are beautifully personal, that’s what makes his characters come to life and seem so real, even in their inherent oddball statures. These constant Wes Anderson themes, and the personalized screenplay by Anderson and Roman Coppola really flourish in the hands of these young children, where their emotions aren’t played ironically or facetiously. Both Sam and Suzy (our main characters who try to run away together) love each other and have this special connection, that might seem funny to us that they believe so fully at a young age (12) that they are meant to be together, but it’s never jokingly aped by Anderson.
The film is very funny, weird, and sweet, just like all Wes Anderson films, but there’s an honesty and freshness to all of this when siphoned through the eyes and actions of two 12-year olds who care deeply for each other. Coupled with their burgeoning love is the flip-side of this coin, an inert sadness that seems to have fully covered this New England island, only to be broken up by Sam and Suzy. Bruce Willis’ Captain Sharp is lonely living by himself and the only real contact he has with anyone else is with Suzy’s mother Laura (Frances McDormand), and hell, that isn’t even that real and just unravels around itself. Laura is disconnected from her husband Walt (Bill Murray) and their kids don’t like them very much, Suzy grabs her cat and high-tails it out of there the first minute she gets. Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) doesn’t have anything either, he’s the only adult in charge of a bunch of boy scouts during the summer and flippantly mentions that he’s normally a teacher. Sadness wrings over his face especially when you become to realize more and more that being Scout Master is the only thing he has that makes him happy, but what even is “happy” for someone so drained of life.
Sam and Suzy’s love only grows within themselves as their adventures move them close and closer to each other. Everybody else is solely against them and their habit of running away. The other scouts rally against Sam because he’s weird, introverted and different. They soon realize he’s one of them though, a scout all the same, sure he’s different, but he’s a scout just like each and every one of them at the end of the day. Sam and Suzy cut through the sadness and isolated worlds of everybody on the island, and make their lives better in whatever tangential way stems from their kinship together. Captain Sharp takes custody of Sam, while the scouts accept him. Suzy’s parents at least seem relatively better while Scout Master Ward gets validation (presumably) from the Scout Commander after he saves his life, and proves his worth. Like the themes and symbols of all Wes Anderson films there is darkness and sadness, but like Sam and Suzy’s togetherness, there is always something to brighten the mood and put their own little twist on elements or people that are seemingly stuck in a rut.