It’s true. I voluntarily watched a Wes Anderson film. It’s also true that I rather enjoyed watching a Wes Anderson film, that film being Moonrise Kingdom. It’s also true that I might have to go back and watch previous Wes Anderson films to see if my informal ban on them has been lifted.
Why did I have a ban, you might ask in horror? Wes Anderson is a God, you might declare in triumph! I guess I’ve just never felt that way about him. While the rest of the world was having a hipstergasm over The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic, I was sitting there wondering why everything was so twee and symbolic and Death Cabbie. I remember seeing Rushmore and rather liking it, and I was thoroughly impressed by Fantastic Mr. Fox, but I just didn’t buy into the aesthetic obsession that most people have with his movies. I still don’t, really, but after seeing Moonrise Kingdom, I’ve come to accept that what New York Magazine‘s David Edelstein says is true: Wes Anderson’s films aren’t movies, per se. They’re are that moves. They aren’t masterpieces in the acting realm, as none of his characters ever channel real human emotions. I tend to gravitate towards films that focus less on the visual and more on the emotional (which is why Garden State is a load of shit, among many other reasons). But! I suppose I could let that go. Anderson is a visual filmmaker, and he knows what he’s doing there. When it comes down to it, though, I generally prefer performance over design. Maybe that’s why I’m not a big museum-goer, either.
Moonrise Kingdom is pretty hilarious, even if it is very self-aware. We laugh because famous actors are in silly clothes; Ed Norton wears a glorified Boy Scout uniform (hipsters do love vintage patches!), Bruce Willis wears a stiff cop uniform (hipsters do love clear plastic frame glasses!), Bill Murray wears no shirt and plaid pants (this will be his next look at the AT&T, I guarantee it), and Tilda Swinton wears something that she’d probably wear on the street in real life. Couple these visual absurdities with the actors’ simple, deadpan delivery of basically every line, and you’ve got a classic Wes Anderson formula. The difference with Moonrise Kingdom, though, and maybe the reason why I liked it more, is the children.
The story is about two twelve-ish kids, Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam (Jared Gilman), who decide they want to be together, so they run away… to another side of the island where they’re both currently spending the summer. It’s not a very glorified plan, nor are the two characters particularly likable, but somehow we end up rooting for them to be together in all their innocence. (It also helps that the actual kids are really cute, and that the girl is taller than the guy. Oh, puberty.) They’re so blatant and honest with each other, and they share the most mundane aspects of their lives all the time, but it’s not annoying at all. It’s sweet and simple, and it sort of makes you question why most movies don’t portray relationships this way. (Or why more adult relationships don’t play out like this.) Oh, wait, right. This is a Wes Anderson movie. It’s not real. Real isn’t always pretty, though, and sometimes you need pretty. Wes Anderson does pretty… pretty well. (Sorry.)