Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is nothing short of adorable. Set in the 1960s in a New England island town, a pair of 12-year-old misfits fall in love through letters and agree to run away together. Sam, an orphan spending the summer at scout camp, wanders backstage at a church play and meets local loner Suzy; the two become pen pals and plot their escape. Once the tweens’ absence is discovered, a search party forms consisting of the island’s seemingly sole policeman (Bruce Willis), Sam’s Khaki Scout Master (Edward Norton) and Khaki Scout troop, and Suzy’s parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray) and little brothers. Adventure, hilarity, and personal growth ensue.
With an all-star ensemble populating the island, getting to know these residents is delightful. Anderson gives us a little of each at a time, and by the end of the film we’re invested in all of them. At first set on separating the pair to return Suzy to her family and Sam to the care of the state, the search party eventually sees what we see: two quirky, troubled kids giving each other the support and acceptance that they desperately need but can’t find in the usual places. The debut of Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman (Suzy and Sam) makes the movie; the fresh, green actors contrast with the familiar faces of the adults in the film, reminding us that no matter how Suzy and Sam might act, they’re still just kids.
The film looks and feels retro, appropriately, and you would know Moonrise was Wes Anderson’s work even if I hadn’t told you. The comedy is in the same vein as The Royal Tenenbaums, with characters full of idiosyncrasies we can’t help but laugh at. The film is visually enthralling, too, and I left the theater considering my options in the way of little-known New England islands to visit.
All in all, my Scout Master recommendation is to make the journey to Moonrise Kingdom. This movie will tickle you pink, whether you want to be tickled or not.