Not sure what to get the lover of quirky films in your life? Try Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. You may know the name from works like The Royal Tenenbaums or The Fantastic Mr. Fox as a director you either love or loathe. Moonrise Kingdom bridges that divide beautifully. While it is very much a Wes Anderson film, it is also a charming, heartwarming ode to childhood and things loved fiercely at a young age.
Personally, I enjoy his films and his directing style, but there is a certain distance I maintain from the characters. Generally speaking I find them interesting and amusing to watch but not relatable–I don’t sympathize with them, and the logic of my brain reaches different conclusions. However, with Moonrise I had no such issues. I think everyone who remembers their childhood with any honesty can relate to the feelings of being an outcast and unwanted, and how amazing it is to find someone who wants to spend all their time with you, someone who takes that loneliness away.
The story of Sam and Susie running away to found their own kingdom is a fantasy I think every kid has at some point. The acting is fantastic, from all the young actors to the graybeards like Bruce Willis, who is a charming surprise in his role as the somewhat bumbling but utterly kind-hearted local sheriff. Francis McDormand, Edward Norton, and Bill Murray are all pitch-perfect in their roles, as well. The music is superbly chosen–the soundtrack is great even on its own–and the directing is among some of Anderson’s best.
I saw the film twice in the theater and could watch again any time. The movie was hilarious the first time and even funnier the second; I can’t imagine how much funnier it will be by the tenth time, but, like The Big Lebowski, this is a movie that gets better with every viewing. I don’t think you can go wrong with this as a gift choice if you need something for a friend or relative who enjoys character comedies and doesn’t need their films to be big-budget blockbusters. Highly recommended.