Wes side story
Hey, all of you critics calling for director Wes Anderson to change his style and make movies differently, I am at this moment asking you to shut the hell up. He has a signature style all his own, and I couldn’t love it more. All you haters can go watch some Michael Bay films.
As for Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson’s return to live action after the wonderful Fantastic Mr. Fox, we get the most “Wes Anderson” of all the Wes Anderson movies. It’s also one of the year’s best films.
Every shot in this film is seen through Anderson’s abstract, surreal, just plain odd eye, and the way he views the world remains highly entertaining. Co-written with Roman Coppola, it contains all of the Anderson signatures: Odd musical choices, tableau shot setups, and the trademark slow-motion cast walk.
Funny, I just want to jump into the screen when Michael Bay does his slow motion cast walks. I want to jump into the screen and trip all of the cast members being bathed in the obnoxious entity that is the Bay camera.
Yet, whenever Anderson does the same thing, I can’t get enough of it. I love watching his casts walk in slow motion!
The story here is set in 1965, where Sam the Khaki Scout (newcomer Jared Gilman) has flown the coop during a camping expedition, much to the worry of Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton, in his funniest performance yet). Sam runs away with Suzy (Kara Hayward, also a newcomer), and they have themselves a romantic couple of days while parents and authority figures frantically search for them.
The adolescent puppy love story is treated with the sort of storybook grace one might expect from Anderson. Sam and Suzy’s dance in their underwear on the beach is a thing to behold, as is their courageous stand against a pack of Khaki Scouts looking to capture the missing duo and return them to Scout Master Ward. The aftermath of the Khaki Scout attack is classic Anderson.
Among the authority figures are Walt and Laura Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), Suzy’s messed-up parents. Murray is always at his best in the land of Anderson, and this film is no exception. Nobody plays comically cranky and confused like Murray. McDormand has a bathroom scene with Hayward that might be her best piece of acting since Fargo.
There’s also Bruce Willis as a sympathetic and sad police officer heading up the search for the children. Willis, an Anderson first-timer, has a nice return to grace after a bad streak that included Cop Out and some straight-to-video fare. Norton kills it as the by-the-numbers scoutmaster who, despite all of his efforts to earnestly take care of his kids and look out for their best interests, often has a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth while just a few feet away from them.
There are many moments in this movie that will survive as my favorites of 2012. Chief among them would be when one of the Khaki Scouts has a change of heart while hanging in their tree house, delivering a rousing speech to his fellow scouts despite the fact that a big chunk of their shelter disengages and collapses during his delivery. It’s just one of those great moments that only Anderson could come up with.
And let it be said that no movie since Caddyshack has used the dreaded lightning strike with such comedic success.
If you aren’t an Anderson fan, this isn’t the movie that will put you over the top with his stuff. If you are an Anderson fan, prepare to fall madly in love with a movie.
So, please Mr. Anderson, ignore all the dummies asking you to make a Wes Anderson movie that isn’t a Wes Anderson movie. Your style is yours all alone, and if you were to diverge from it, I just might cry for all the wrong reasons at the movie theater.