I went (alone) to a midnight movie a week ago, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. Beyond that, I’m especially not sure what to make of being unsure of what to make of it.
Make sense? No? That’s probably about right. But, to make things more confusing, I genuinely liked Moonrise Kingdom, the latest Wes Anderson quirkedy. That’s what Adam Carolla has taken to calling Anderson’s quirky comedies. Whether intended or not, the tag also seems to fit in that the flicks are almost formulaic: An outdated and exquisitely detailed look, melancholy if well-intentioned characters and a generally positive outcome.
I fully acknowledge the offbeat predictability. But it doesn’t damper my liking for them. Anderson is the only modern filmmaker that I purposely track. In addition to the visual appeal, I relate to these semi-troubled characters and their oddly thoughtful natures, and appreciate the subtlety of the humor, the fact that it takes several viewings to appreciate the entirety of the piece. Anderson produces art in an industry driven by explosions.
That said, Moonrise Kingdom threw me. Yes, the costumes (and the music) were old school hip ala Rushmore. Yes, the primary indoor set was a large and complicated house cracked down the middle vertically much like the sub in The Life Aquatic. Yes, the main characters were (quietly) talented yet suicidal like Luke Wilson’s tennis player character in The Royal Tenenbaums. (His wrist-slashing scene is simultaneously beautiful and excruciating. One of my favorites in any movie, Wes Anderson or not.) However, the plot centered on two 12-year-olds, a boy and a girl brought together by difficult circumstances. (Sidebar: Both kids move their mouths in very unusual ways when speaking. I can’t be the only person to have noticed this … and to wonder if it was intentional or not.)
I won’t go any further than that in terms of describing the film in the hope that you’ll see it and help explain to me what happened. (Actually, when trying to find out who wrote the film, I stumbled across this link that claims to let you watch the movie for free as long as you fill out a short survey. You’re welcome.)
On the surface, the central theme was that young adulthood – and life, in general, I suppose – can be hard, almost unnavigable. But that being understood, if only by one person, can make all the difference.
There are more hidden messages – I’m pretty sure of that. It’s just going to take more looks to pin them down. In subsequent viewings, I may need to skip a couple scenes that were – again, without ruining anything for you – borderline cartoonish. It was … strange, off putting and didn’t fit with the film to that point or the Anderson collection. Even after giving is some thought, I’m uncertain if Anderson added this element as a way to keep things fresh or if those scenes in particular were supposed to mean something. Frankly, I’m hoping for the latter because the former skews too close to shark jumping for my liking.
But, don’t misunderstand: I enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom. Or, at least, I enjoyed the idea of Moonrise Kingdom, that there are people like Anderson in the entertainment industry – genuinely creative, obsessive about detail, willing to take risks (even at the risk of alienating loyal fans) and keen on both style and substance.
On the other hand, maybe I’m full of crap, desperate to find meaning where there is none. I appreciate the stimulation, nonetheless.