Judging a Wes Anderson movie after a single viewing is no easy task. First of all, Anderson fills his movies with visual and dramatic subtleties. This means after the third or fourth viewing (if you, like many Wes fans, can put up with 372 minutes of Rushmore), his films form an entirely new image in the audience’s mind. As a Moonrise Kingdom virgin, then, I was apprehensive about judging the film upon my first sight of the closing credits. That said, my mind eventually settled on a fact that I will not find myself disputing on my fifth Moonrise screening: it was weird, but weird in a good way. Am I making any sense? No? Let me explain.
The hero of Moonrise Kingdom is Sam, a precocious orphan on the run from his “Khaki Scout” troop. Carrying nothing but his thick-framed glasses and a backpack full of camping equipment, this escapee sets out to meet his childhood sweetheart, Suzy, an ill-tempered loner who eagerly accepts Sam’s invitation to run away. As the pair evades the scoutmaster (Ed Norton) and local law enforcement (Bruce Willis), they pick up a few life lessons. Yes, that includes pondering about their nascent sexuality, and yes, it is as awkward as it sounds. To round off the cast, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand play Suzy’s quarreling parents whose dwindling marriage serves as the bane of Suzy’s childhood.