"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 char