Saturday, June 23, 2012

Thoughts: Moonrise Kingdom

Does anyone else feel like Wes Anderson is just going through the motions these days? Moonrise Kingdom was good, but it just felt like it was a paint-by-numbers version of how to make a Wes Anderson movie:
  • Wide-angle shots ... check
  • Cross-section cutaway sets ... check
  • Symmetrical compositions ... check
  • Vibrant, deliberate color palette ... check
  • Semi-detached yet resonant dialogue delivery ... check
  • Looks/sounds/feels like it's set in the the mid 60's whether it actually is or not ... check
  • Slow motion scene set to music that punctuates turning point in the plot or a major character moment ... check
This isn't the first time I've been critical of Anderson. The first time I saw both The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited I didn't think I liked either of them very much, but as time went on and the movies sank in, I grew to appreciate them a great deal. I don't expect Anderson to ever make a film as brilliant and resonant as The Royal Tennenbaums again (you'd have to be a robot not to be moved by that film), but I kinda feel like he's just phoning it in on Moonrise Kingdom.

Maybe it's that the film isn't for me, maybe it's a movie for tweens, but I never connected with any of the characters and so the film just became for me a series of Wes Anderson directed scenes that (while amusing) had little impact. The only character I really felt anything for was Ed Norton's scout master and only then because he got to a point where he had something to prove. The bare scraps of plot for all the other characters never really go anywhere, but I don't end up caring because I was never properly introduced to them to begin with. Even two leads and their apparently star-crossed young love are neither properly introduced nor built upon in any meaningful way.

In the end, Moonrise Kingdom feels like a Wes Anderson picture puzzle. All the pieces are there and they fit together to make pleasing enough image, but it's not something you're going to frame and put on your wall. When you're done with Moonrise Kingdom you'll forget about it and move onto something else. Maybe Anderson has gotten too wrapped up in his own style or maybe Owen Wilson (who was not involved with the writing of this film as he has been on past Anderson projects) is a bigger part of the Wes Anderson equation than I previously gave him credit for. In either case, Moonrise Kingdom was entertaining, but forgettable in the long run.

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