True love wins out in “Moonrise Kingdom”

I have to admit that this movie left me with mixed feelings. Wes Anderson is a unique director whose touch can be seen in all of this films. Some of Anderson’s films include “Bottle Rocket,” “Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and about half a dozen more. This is the reason that I am at a divided point with this film: I have seen three of Anderson’s films and basically feel the same way about them as I did about “Moonrise Kingdom.” They are all equally unusual, quirky, bizarre, sweet and at times too strange to even comprehend. In order to gain a little insight I have discussed this film with a few of my friends who have seen it. They all seemed to like it – and like it a lot. It has been nominated for many independent film awards and even won a few. I think it is the type of film that other independent film producers like to see.

The story centers around two young people, about 11 years old, who don’t seem to fit into the “Moonrise Kingdom” community. They admire each other from afar and decide to run away and begin their life together. Their individual oddities seem to come in handy during their wilderness “survival.” This was basically the first film for both young actors: Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. They are both bizarre enough, yet play their roles straight and true. I think the fact that they are in love and are able to find each other is what makes this film fun.

What else is there to like in this film? The acting is wonderfully stiff and quirky. Edward Norton is perfect as the chain smoking leader of the Khaki Scouts. He brings a special edge to the unusual humor of the film. Then we have Bruce Willis, the island’s only police officer. This isn’t your John McClane, “Die Hard,” Willis. This is a small fish in a small bowl, Willis. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand play the parents of the missing children and Tilda Swinton is hilarious as the social services person sent to figure out the mess. Also worthy of mentioning are Jason Schwartzman as helpful Cousin Ben, and Harvey Keitel as the aging Camp Master.

Now comes my dilemma. I really enjoyed parts of the movie and remember them fondly, but some disturbing moments seem to take the movie in a different direction. The film always finds its way back to a theme, but it borders on unbelievable and, frankly, quite too weird for my taste. Even the “happy ending” is weird, but at the same time endearing.

Check out this quirky little film for yourself this weekend at the Orpheum. This film is rated PG-13.

The show times are 7 p.m. on Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Visit the theater for tours and check out all of the Iowa related memorabilia. Check the Jean Seberg display on the first floor and the Donna Reed exhibit on the second floor. Call the Orpheum Theater Center movie hotline at 641-844-5907 or visit

Tom LaVille is a retired Marshalltown drama and literature teacher. LaVille’s Critic’s Corner column appears Friday in the Times-Republican.