Moonrise Kingdom movie review


My Score: 80%

I saw Moonrise Kingdom this past weekend, and I certainly had a good time, but I didn’t love it the way most critics did.  (It’s at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.)  The flick checks off most of the usual Wes Anderson boxes, but ultimately, its peripheral characters feel underdeveloped and its main characters didn’t pull me in.

Wes Anderson check boxes
Any time you watch a movie by director Wes Anderson, you know you’re going into a specific experience.  Comedic whimsy is where it starts – this guy loves his details and never skips on the minutia.

Most Wes Anderson movies have at least one setting that either he gives you a tour of or is very compartmentalized or specific.  For example, there’s the house in The Royal Tenanbaums or the ship in Life Aquatic, but there’s usually something like that.  This movie seems like it’s going to have that in the place of Suzy’s house, but it never comes to be.  This isn’t really a fault of the movie, but just something I was looking for from WA that I never got.  (For instance, by the end of The Royal Tenanbaums or Life Aquatic, you feel like you know your way around the settings, as if it was a real place you’d spent a few weeks living at.  Moonrise Kingdom doesn’t have this – no matter how many times he showed the map of the island, I just couldn’t remember where anything was in relation to anything else.)
Anyway, I’d leave this box unchecked

Suzy’s dress, Sam’s uniform (and all the other scouts’ uniforms), Captain Sharp’s uniform, Social Services’ dress, all of the kids in the Noah’s Ark play… yeah, vivid costumes are a go here.
This box is checked.

Suzy’s scissors, books and binoculars, Sam’s camping gear, Scout Master Ward’s tape recorder, Suzy’s brother’s record player…  iconic props are a go here.
This box is checked.

Dialogue Cadence
Yep, everybody talks like they’re in a Wes Anderson movie – almost to a fault.
This box is checked.

This is a tough one.  We’ve got the vivid character shells, but I never really got a sense of who these people were – with the exception of Sam, but I never got to learn as much about him as I wanted to – I understood Suzy a little better, but not much.  Sure, Scout Master Ward, Captain Sharp, Suzy’s parents and Social Services are all vivid in their own way, but I never really got to understand them or their motivations.  I guess Captain Sharp was having an affair with Suzy’s mom…  because she’s got it going on?  Or maybe because he was lonely and her marriage wasn’t working out?  Or was the marriage not working out between Suzy’s parents because the mom was having an affair?  I have no idea, and I feel like WA usually fills in these blanks.
I’m going to leave this one unchecked.
“Go over by the trampoline and talk this out.”
Good stuff.

The patented Wes Anderson quirkiness is present in Moonrise Kingdom, but right up front, I’d like to say I could have done without another dead dog – at least in The Royal Tenanbaums, it felt like a natural part of the story and taught us a lot about several characters – here, I just felt like he killed the dog because he didn’t have anything else for it to do in the rest of the movie.   At least it provided one of my favorite bits of dialogue:
SUZY:  Was he a good dog?
SAM:  Who’s to say?
That was awesome – I guess you have to hear it in context.
I enjoyed the story as the plot and the performances are what pulled me in rather than any sincere love or hate for the characters, and it had that Wes Anderson quirk and charm, so let’s call this box checked.

It’s not a perfect movie, but Moonrise Kingdom has great performances, charm and humor – and that’s more than enough to keep you entertained.  But that’s just me; some guy named Boo Allen of the Denton Record Chronicle called this movie, “More unbearable Anderson whimsy.”  That’s going too far – it’s also hard to accept the criticism of too much whimsy from someone who’s first name is ‘Boo,’ especially since he was probably named after the character from To Kill a Mockingbird.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on June 14, 2012, in movie review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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