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The UnPopular Opinion: Moonrise Kingdom

May. 7, 2014by: Alex Maidy

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

This pains me to write as a Wes Anderson fan but I really hated MOONRISE KINGDOM. Much like Tim Burton, Wes Anderson is an incredibly stylized director with a very niche film-making palette. Sometimes when he extends that palette it works, like in the brilliant THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. Sometimes, it feels repetitive, like THE LIFE AQUATIC as compared to THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS. But, with MOONRISE KINGDOM, Anderson somehow managed to make the perfect Wes Anderson film that doesn't feel like it was directed by Wes Anderson.

None of Wes Anderson's films exist in reality. Every movie he has made, with the exception of his debut, BOTTLE ROCKET, feels like it takes place in a fantasy world slightly parallel to our own reality. Whether it be New York, Zubrowka, or India, Anderson's settings feel wholly unique to the film they are in. But, they never felt forced. I could not make it through the entirety of MOONRISE KINGDOM without the gnawing feeling that Wes Anderson really wanted us to see this story but couldn't quite figure out how to get it to us.

On Wednesdays we wear bizarre animal costumes.

Anderson collaborators in the past have gone on to fine careers as filmmakers. Whether it be Roman Coppola, Noah Baumbach, or even Jason Schwartzmann and Owen Wilson, they each have lent their distinct writing voices to Anderson's films as they were needed. While Roman Coppola co-wrote MOONRISE KINGDOM, I cannot help but feel it may have benefited from his direction with Anderson simply serving as a producer. All of the trademark Anderson detail is here in the form of meticulously recreated book covers, albums, and other props, but MOONRISE KINGDOM never feels like it elevates itself beyond a sense of "look at me" filmmaking rather than the more natural course all of the other movies Wes Anderson has directed.

MOONRISE KINGDOM is just boring. It has all of the elements that make Anderson's films great, but it just doesn't work. You can call out all of the items that make this movie bad and they work flawlessly in THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. Period story? Check. Huge cast? Check. Quirky central characters? Check. Handmade set design and title cards? Check. So, why does MOONRISE KINGDOM fail? It doesn't feel authentic in the least.

Wes Anderson Presents DIE HARD WITH A MAJESTIC GRACE

MOONRISE KINGDOM shares a lot in common, visually, with RUSHMORE. After that film and THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, Anderson began to venture into more and more surreal territory.  THE LIFE AQUATIC and THE DARJEELING LIMITED both dive into the depths of merging the Etsy-like creations that populate scene transitions and the bookshelves of these films, further separating them from reality.  Eventually, Wes Anderson directed THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, the epitome of this aesthetic.  The combination of stop motion animation with Anderson's style created a very unique film.  But, once you have gone that far down the rabbit hole, where else is there to go?  MOONRISE KINGDOM serves as a polar shift from that animated world to a washed out reality.  MOONRISE KINGDOM feels dreamlike and grounded, two impressions that when felt simultaneously can be quite jarring.

Anderson's usual troupe is here in a limited capacity.  Only Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzmann appear in MOONRISE KINGDOM.  While almost every actor that has worked with Anderson returned in THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, MOONRISE KINGDOM is a showcase for new talent.  Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, and Edward Norton are all good here, but the lack of any other Anderson regular is very apparent.  McDormand is very under-used in her role while Willis and Norton shine.  Edward Norton especially feels perfectly at home in the madness of a Wes Anderson production and I hope he continues to appear in future films.  But MOONRISE KINGDOM hinges on the two young stars that play Suzy and Sam.  Jared Hilman and Kara Hayward are given the challenge of carrying this film on their pre-teen shoulders, spewing dialogue that would be difficult to deliver for even a seasoned actor.  They both do a serviceable job, but there is not enough to make the movie work.

Everything about this scene looks perfect.  Perfectly boring.

There is no doubt that Wes Anderson is an acquired taste.  Having loved every movie he has made, disliking MOONRISE KINGDOM was difficult.  I watched it again and again, trying to appreciate it as much as I could, but it just didn't amount to a working film.  Bill Murray had his moments in the film, per usual, as did almost every cast member.  The cinematography is classic Anderson and Alexandre Desplat's score evoked the same nostalgic feeling I get form every American Empirical feature.  MOONRISE KINGDOM is the rare story about youth that doesn't involve violence, aliens, or sex and should have been a home run for Anderson.  But, something just doesn't click and makes MOONRISE KINGDOM the lone failure in a career without fault.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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10:46PM on 05/13/2014

Apart from Royal and Fox.

Wes Anderson just screams hipster mediocrity to me and Darjeeling is the worst offender even by his standards. At least PT Anderson and Alex Payne don't fall into the same gimmicks as Wes and care about the story.
Wes Anderson just screams hipster mediocrity to me and Darjeeling is the worst offender even by his standards. At least PT Anderson and Alex Payne don't fall into the same gimmicks as Wes and care about the story.
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12:33PM on 05/08/2014

Yup

Completely agree, this movie was so hyped up that when I saw it I couldn't believe how many people loved it. It's completely put me off on seeing the Grand Budapest Hotel because it got the same raves.
Completely agree, this movie was so hyped up that when I saw it I couldn't believe how many people loved it. It's completely put me off on seeing the Grand Budapest Hotel because it got the same raves.
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9:22AM on 05/08/2014
Anything made by Wes Anderson is pure shit. This guy is a joke adored by scenesters and bloggers who'll believe anything the over rated critics shove down their throats as "art".
Anything made by Wes Anderson is pure shit. This guy is a joke adored by scenesters and bloggers who'll believe anything the over rated critics shove down their throats as "art".
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10:40PM on 05/13/2014
Apart from Royal and Fox, I agree. The rest of it is hipster propaganda. He's the director equivalent of Pitchfork Media. I prefer that OTHER Anderson, PT.
Apart from Royal and Fox, I agree. The rest of it is hipster propaganda. He's the director equivalent of Pitchfork Media. I prefer that OTHER Anderson, PT.
9:15PM on 05/07/2014
I agree with this. The movie was hyped a lot, and it didn't live up to expectations. I think part of the reason I didn't like it was because my favorite part of Anderson's films are Seeing great actors Anderson-fied (made that word up) and see them in a role different than most other films. Which is why I really like the parts with Norton and Willis (seriously, this was one of the few times Willis actually acted in the last decade), but couldnt get into the parts with the kids.
I agree with this. The movie was hyped a lot, and it didn't live up to expectations. I think part of the reason I didn't like it was because my favorite part of Anderson's films are Seeing great actors Anderson-fied (made that word up) and see them in a role different than most other films. Which is why I really like the parts with Norton and Willis (seriously, this was one of the few times Willis actually acted in the last decade), but couldnt get into the parts with the kids.
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-2
4:32PM on 05/07/2014

6/10. Here's why:

[link] (skip the first 5 seconds)
[link] (skip the first 5 seconds)
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3:49PM on 05/07/2014
Loved this, I think The Life Aquatic is his one bad apple.
Loved this, I think The Life Aquatic is his one bad apple.
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3:04PM on 05/07/2014
Hated every minute of it, just like every other Wes Anderson movie.
Hated every minute of it, just like every other Wes Anderson movie.
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2:08PM on 05/07/2014
I agree that movie sucked, I was damn bored by it, but I disagree about it not feeling like it was directed by Wes Anderson. I thought he did a wonderful job, but it was just very boring.
I agree that movie sucked, I was damn bored by it, but I disagree about it not feeling like it was directed by Wes Anderson. I thought he did a wonderful job, but it was just very boring.
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-2
11:47AM on 05/07/2014
I agree, I absolutely hated this movie. It felt like Wes Anderson trying to make what people think a Wes Anderson movie should be, injecting all of his techniques into places not because they work in those scenes but because they are expected.
I agree, I absolutely hated this movie. It felt like Wes Anderson trying to make what people think a Wes Anderson movie should be, injecting all of his techniques into places not because they work in those scenes but because they are expected.
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11:19AM on 05/07/2014

Gotta disagree

I love Moonrise Kingdom and I see a lot of your points but to say it doesn't feel like an Anderson movie directed by Anderson, I definitely disagree.
I love Moonrise Kingdom and I see a lot of your points but to say it doesn't feel like an Anderson movie directed by Anderson, I definitely disagree.
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11:06AM on 05/07/2014

I thought there was something wrong with me!

I am a huge Wes Anderson fan and this was the only movie that I didn't care for. Half way through the movie I kept hoping it would make a big turn to where it would win me over. That moment never came, and after it was all over I was in shock at how much I didn't like it. I couldn't agree with you more.
I am a huge Wes Anderson fan and this was the only movie that I didn't care for. Half way through the movie I kept hoping it would make a big turn to where it would win me over. That moment never came, and after it was all over I was in shock at how much I didn't like it. I couldn't agree with you more.
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10:17AM on 05/07/2014

Disagree entirely

You see, I actually felt Moonrise Kingdom was Anderson's most emotionally authentic film since The Royal Tenenbaums. I thought that the two child leads were fantastic, and oozed authenticity. Neither one felt like they were "ACTING." Its weird that everything you hated about the film is what I loved. To each his own, I guess.
You see, I actually felt Moonrise Kingdom was Anderson's most emotionally authentic film since The Royal Tenenbaums. I thought that the two child leads were fantastic, and oozed authenticity. Neither one felt like they were "ACTING." Its weird that everything you hated about the film is what I loved. To each his own, I guess.
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10:13AM on 05/07/2014

You're Being Too Kind

I was so excited to see this, after hearing all the critics rave and all my friends fawn over it. I am to this day convinced I saw a different film than them.

I agree with your many complainants about the movie, but I believe you overlooked some of the biggest sins- the "quirkiness" in his other movies comes from the characters and the odd stuff it is just quirk for the sake of quirk- why for the sweet love of any higher power would you stop while being chased to put on a costume and
I was so excited to see this, after hearing all the critics rave and all my friends fawn over it. I am to this day convinced I saw a different film than them.

I agree with your many complainants about the movie, but I believe you overlooked some of the biggest sins- the "quirkiness" in his other movies comes from the characters and the odd stuff it is just quirk for the sake of quirk- why for the sweet love of any higher power would you stop while being chased to put on a costume and immediately change out of it the moment the people chasing you show up? That's not quirk, that's stupidity.

The whole movie has confused the two.
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+2
10:10AM on 05/07/2014

Not agreeing with this at all.

I think I've seen every Anderson film except for Bottle Rocket, and while I've enjoyed all of them to at least some degree, I get how they're not something everyone will enjoy. That being said I agree with some of the other posters when they've said that I think this was hands down his best (live action) one since Royal Tenenbaums.
I think I've seen every Anderson film except for Bottle Rocket, and while I've enjoyed all of them to at least some degree, I get how they're not something everyone will enjoy. That being said I agree with some of the other posters when they've said that I think this was hands down his best (live action) one since Royal Tenenbaums.
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9:52AM on 05/07/2014
Wes Anderson movies suck altogether.
Wes Anderson movies suck altogether.
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9:25AM on 05/07/2014
It took me a while to get into Andersons films. Rushmore and Tenenbaums did nothing for me, but then I saw the Darjeeling Limited, and it blew me away. I'm pretty sure I watched it twice right in a row the first time. The Aquatic Life was amazing as well. So I was very excited when I heard this movie was coming out, but much like the unpopular opinion, it didnt do much for me. It definitely felt forced at times, and seemed to be a waste of great talent. I'm looking forward to Budapest
It took me a while to get into Andersons films. Rushmore and Tenenbaums did nothing for me, but then I saw the Darjeeling Limited, and it blew me away. I'm pretty sure I watched it twice right in a row the first time. The Aquatic Life was amazing as well. So I was very excited when I heard this movie was coming out, but much like the unpopular opinion, it didnt do much for me. It definitely felt forced at times, and seemed to be a waste of great talent. I'm looking forward to Budapest though.
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9:25AM on 05/07/2014
Felt the same way when I first saw it. I couldn't get into it for some reason, maybe because of the younger kids? Looked great as all his films do, but I didn't connect with it.
Of course I felt kind of the same way about Life Aquatic, but after watching that again I think it's one of my favorites. So maybe I need to give it another shot.
Felt the same way when I first saw it. I couldn't get into it for some reason, maybe because of the younger kids? Looked great as all his films do, but I didn't connect with it.
Of course I felt kind of the same way about Life Aquatic, but after watching that again I think it's one of my favorites. So maybe I need to give it another shot.
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8:52AM on 05/07/2014

If you have to call a Wes Anderson character 'quirky'...

then you probably have no understanding of Wes Anderson characters.
THAT being said, Moonrise Kingdom is definitely on the lower end of the scale for me, definitely one of the better movies in 2012, but it does feel forced compared to Tenenbaums/Life Aquatic. Main problem for me is Sam Shukusky - that kid was ... well pretty bad. The girl who played Susie, Kara Hayward, did well. But that's still one-half that needed to be spot on to work. The score and the visuals are where it really shines
then you probably have no understanding of Wes Anderson characters.
THAT being said, Moonrise Kingdom is definitely on the lower end of the scale for me, definitely one of the better movies in 2012, but it does feel forced compared to Tenenbaums/Life Aquatic. Main problem for me is Sam Shukusky - that kid was ... well pretty bad. The girl who played Susie, Kara Hayward, did well. But that's still one-half that needed to be spot on to work. The score and the visuals are where it really shines ... But then it gets completely blown out the water by Grand Budapest.
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8:40AM on 05/07/2014
I honesty thought it was Wes Anderson's best film since The Royal Tenenbaums. Just a very well made film with a touching story and with a great cast of characters.

I don't understand why people are turned off by films that may seem "too perfect". Isn't that what us fans strive for when it comes to watching films and television shows?
I honesty thought it was Wes Anderson's best film since The Royal Tenenbaums. Just a very well made film with a touching story and with a great cast of characters.

I don't understand why people are turned off by films that may seem "too perfect". Isn't that what us fans strive for when it comes to watching films and television shows?
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10:12AM on 05/07/2014
Soloist, I agree with you man, but if you didn't agree with the article you should have made your comment red, not green!
Soloist, I agree with you man, but if you didn't agree with the article you should have made your comment red, not green!
10:12AM on 05/07/2014
Holy freaking double post.
Holy freaking double post.
10:12AM on 05/07/2014
Holy freaking triple post.
Holy freaking triple post.
10:12AM on 05/07/2014
Holy freaking... quadruple post, really?
Holy freaking... quadruple post, really?
8:38AM on 05/07/2014

I agree 100%

I haven't seen this movie since it came out but I remember being incredibly disappointed considering how adored this movie was. It was so pretentious and boring and the worst sin was it wasted an amazing cast. I also felt like this movie came too close to being kiddie porn at times.
I haven't seen this movie since it came out but I remember being incredibly disappointed considering how adored this movie was. It was so pretentious and boring and the worst sin was it wasted an amazing cast. I also felt like this movie came too close to being kiddie porn at times.
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-6
8:27AM on 05/07/2014
Honestly, I think Wes Anderson is an incredibly overrated director. He is the epitome of everything that's annoying about hipsters.
Honestly, I think Wes Anderson is an incredibly overrated director. He is the epitome of everything that's annoying about hipsters.
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9:05AM on 05/07/2014
Thank you. I'm glad I'm not the only one.
Thank you. I'm glad I'm not the only one.
10:44PM on 05/13/2014
Same here. There are better directors like Payne, Coen and PT that don't fall into hipster propaganda trappings and still make their movie good. Wes is a one trick pony.
Same here. There are better directors like Payne, Coen and PT that don't fall into hipster propaganda trappings and still make their movie good. Wes is a one trick pony.
8:26AM on 05/07/2014

I like Wes Anderson work, but I didn't enjoyed it...

too weird, too slow, too boring, too dated, too pretentious... I had the impression to watch a french movie.... beurk ! I wanted to slap those boring kids !
God Bless Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich, Paul WS Anderson, David R. Ellis and Renny Harlin !
too weird, too slow, too boring, too dated, too pretentious... I had the impression to watch a french movie.... beurk ! I wanted to slap those boring kids !
God Bless Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich, Paul WS Anderson, David R. Ellis and Renny Harlin !
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8:12AM on 05/07/2014
I liked Moonrise Kingdom a lot. Along with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, it's a great example of Anderson's potential in doing a family movie. His aesthetic has always looked like illustrations, and while I appreciated the gentler touch he used in Moonrise, I can understand that some fans might be turned off by that. Maybe it is a little too neat. I didn't mind.
I liked Moonrise Kingdom a lot. Along with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, it's a great example of Anderson's potential in doing a family movie. His aesthetic has always looked like illustrations, and while I appreciated the gentler touch he used in Moonrise, I can understand that some fans might be turned off by that. Maybe it is a little too neat. I didn't mind.
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