A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Moonrise Kingdom -- a 1960s-set dramedy about two misfit tweens who run away with each other -- is, like most of director Wes Anderson's other films, atmospheric and loopy and moving: a mix that might confound younger audiences, even though the movie is about kids. Plus, the stories of their home lives are actually quite sad (one is an orphan; the other feels alone and misunderstood by her family). The young characters kiss each other, feel each other up, and are shown in their underwear. Swearing is pretty minimal ("hell," etc.), but there's some period-accurate smoking, and one 12-year-old character is served beer by an adult.
What's the story?
From the moment they set eyes on each other -- during a 1964 church pageant where she was dressed as a raven on Noah's ark and he was in a furry hat and khaki scout uniform -- Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam (Jared Gilman) knew they were made for each other. Suzy's parents think she's a "troubled" child; Sam lives in a foster home with "parents" who barely foster him. But in each other, they find a soulmate -- or at least a best friend -- and Suzy asks Sam to write to her. A year later, they decide to run away together to a special cove they christen Moonrise Kingdom, setting off a search party that includes Suzy's unhappily married parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), the lonely police chief (Bruce Willis), and a hapless, earnest khaki scout leader (Edward Norton).
Is it any good?
MOONRISE KINGDOM is precious. It's also almost stiflingly stylized, an elliptical concoction with odd characters and peculiar storylines and overly, specifically gorgeous set design that strains the senses. But it still shines like a well-cut gem, with delicate layers and exquisite characters that live in a world you've never seen before but don't mind visiting and a plot that sneaks up on you with quiet heartbreak.
The two young leads, Hayward and Gilman, are keepers; they're so unaffected that they're effective -- they seem like real people asking hard questions and struggling to connect and be grounded in a world in which adults are moorless. They're each other's match in the funky ark meant to survive this rain-soaked world experiencing its own flood. Anderson is an auteur. To see his films is to give yourself over to his singular, sometimes claustrophobic vision. But with Moonrise Kingdom, surrendering to Andersonland is a pleasure. Don't think about it too much; allow yourself to be engulfed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Moonrise Kingdom is saying about the adults in these children's lives. Why do they seem so hapless? Are any of them role models?
Are Wes Anderson's movies funny, sad, or both. Why? How is his style of comedy different from other filmmakers'? How is this movie similar to and different from his other films?
Why are Sam and Suzy drawn to each other? What do they offer each other? Do they seem like real 12-year-olds?
- In theaters: May 25, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: October 16, 2012
- Cast: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward
- Director: Wes Anderson
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content and smoking
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.