"Moonrise Kingdom" is the cinema discovery of the 2012 summer movie season.
"Moonrise Kingdom" captures youthful summer vacation adventures. It's a rare cinema experience you don't want to end and could see again and again.
"Moonrise Kingdom" is a throwback to 1980's cinema: the pre-teen world view of "Stand By Me"(1986); the rambunctiousness of "Raising Arizona" (1987); and the charm of "A Christmas Story" (1983), "Back to the Future" (1985) and "The Princess Bride" (1987). It's "The Wonder Years" (1988) with twists.
"Moonrise Kingdom" is something more. It's as sweet as a schoolyard crush and as aching as a heart's first love.
Writer (co-writing with Roman Coppola, "The Darjeeling Limited") and director Wes Anderson ("Fantastic Mr. Fox," "The Royal Tenenbaums," "Rushmore") sets the story on a New England island circa 1965. Sam (Jared Gilman), a wayward Khaki Scout (standing in for the Boy Scouts of America), runs away with Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), his girlfriend.
"Moonrise Kingdom" creates a world of lazy summer board games of Parcheesi, exaggerated deeds and adolescent angst. It's a rip-roaring good yarn with a bevy of stellar performances.
Bruce Willis is winsome, wistful and thoughtful as Captain Sharp, Island Police chief.
Bill Murray is Walt Bishop, a crabby lawyer married to Laura, another lawyer, the always enigmatic Frances McDormand. They are Suzy's parents.
Edward Norton is obsessed, caring and intense as Scout Master Ward, Khaki Scout leader of Camp Ivanhoe, which Sam flees.
Tilda Swinton is a gung-ho Social Services official.
Jason Schwartzman is Cousin Ben, an enterprising Khaki Scout chaplain.
Harvey Keitel is Commander Pierce of the Scouts' Fort Lebanon, where the Hullabaloo (read Jamboree, or Jambo) is to be held.
Bob Balaban, in elfin green knit cap and red coat, is the island chronicler, providing a narration through-line.
There's a remarkable pack of boys, also good actors, who are the Khaki Scouts.
At the center of the story is Jared Gilman in his feature debut as coonskin cap-wearing and corncob pipe-smoking Sam, and Kara Hayward also in her feature film debut as Suzy, his book-reading and binocular-wielding girlfriend.
Anderson, again working with Director of Photography Robert D. Yeoman, frames the two youths in frequent close-ups. Theirs are unvarnished, naive performances. Anderson surveys the hand-painted walls of the Bishops' house, languidly panning from room to room, as might a child playing with a dollhouse.
Benjamin Britten's "Noye's Fludde, Op. 59 : "Noye, Noye, Take Thou Thy Company" (1957), performed in a church, becomes a metaphor for approaching Hurricane Maybelline and the characters' night of reckoning.
So, gather round the cinematic campfire, boys and girls. Don't forget the bug spray. Listen to the tale of "Moonrise Kingdom." As with many fond childhood memories, you won't want this one to end.
Moonrise Kingdom," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for sexual content and smoking; Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance; Run time: 1 hr., 34 min.; Distributed by Focus Features.
Credit Readers' Anonymous: "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34: Themes A - F" (1946), composed by Benjamin Britten, performed by the New York Philharmonic and conducted by Leonard Bernstein, frames the soundtrack, which includes compositions by Alexandre Desplat and Hank Williams, of "Moonrise Kingdom," filmed in and around Newport, R.I.
Box Office, June 22: "Brave" won the hearts of movie-goers, opening at No. 1, $66.7 million, moving "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" to No. 2, after two weeks at No. 1, with $20.2 million, $157.5 million, three weeks; and keeping "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," opening at No. 3, with $16.5 million.
4. "Prometheus," $10 million, $108.5 million, three weeks, 5. "Snow White and the Huntsman," $8 million, $137.1 million, four weeks; 6. "Rock of Ages," $8 million,$28.7 million; 7. "That's My Boy," $7.9 million, $28.1 million, two weeks; 8. "The Avengers," $7 million, $598.3 million, eight weeks; 9. "Men in Black 3," $5.6 million, $163.3 million, five weeks; 10. "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," $3.8 million; 11. "Moonrise Kingdom," $3.4 million, $11.6 million, five weeks.
Unreel, June 29: "Magic Mike," R: A male dancer teaches a younger performer tricks of the trade. Steven Soderbergh directs Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey.
"Madea's Witness Protection," PG-13: Tyler Perry directs and stars in the comedy, also starring Eugene Levy, Denise Richards and Tom Arnold, about a Wall Street investment banker relocated to Aunt Madea's southern home.
"Ted," R: The fantasy is about a man (Mark Wahlberg) and his teddy bear, which comes to life. TV's "Family Man" Seth MacFarlane, in his feature film debut, directs.
Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, tnonline.com, where the movie reviews are archived. Email Paul Willistein firstname.lastname@example.org  and on facebook.
Five Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes