Friday, November 30, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson's “Moonrise Kingdom” has been getting the best reviews of his career – it also won the prestigious Gotham award for indie features this month.

So, even though I'm not a big fan of his work, I felt obliged to see his latest film. It has a wonderful cast – Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray (again), but it's the same old quirky storytelling.

Now, there are other quirky directors who make great films – David Lynch and Terry Gilliam come to mind, and I love their stuff. But what bugs me is that quirkiness is all that Mr. Anderson can offer. I never laughed during “Moonrise Kingdom”. I was never amazed, scared or involved emotionally. And that's the problem, it's all surface.

It's as if a child made the film. It looks like amateur filmmaking. It was the same for “Fantastic Mr. Fox” - the snake was made of cotton balls and all of the movements were crude and primitive, and because of the raw look of the film, you didn't notice there was no story, no emotion and no humor.

He's like a naïve artist. Maybe people like him because he seems so innocent.

I remember when I was making print cartoons, and around the mid-1980's, there was an insurgence of cartoon strips that were drawn very badly, and they got a lot of publicity and popularity because they were hip and different.

Now, I love to draw and I take pride in my drawing style. I also believe that good characters and good jokes are important to a successful comic strip. So, I was mystified as to the popularity of that new wave of badly drawn, unfunny comics.

That's the same feeling I have for Wes Anderson. Perhaps it's jealousy that drives my distaste for his films. Why is he so rich and famous while I'm still struggling to make my films and get distribution?
It's nothing personal against Mr. Anderson – I liked “Bottle Rocket”, his first film. But I just believe it's a case of “The Emperor's New Clothes” - why don't people see there's no talent there?

I give “Moonrise Kingdom” a D.


  1. Care to give some examples of these mid-80s comic strips that were drawn badly and got a lot of popularity, Mr. Plympton?

  2. Oh, I must disagree, good sir! This is perhaps Anderson's most emotionally fraught film, in my eyes. Throughout the entire movie, we get the failures of adult lives contrasted with the excitement of a budding romance amongst children. For a while, it seems like it'd be a bit more exciting to live amongst the children with their Khaki Scout regalia, their war-movie speak, and their sense of adventure.

    But at the end of this film, you realize that their romance is probably going to fizzle out. It's the first big romance between them. You're not really expecting them to go on and have a this long marriage because they are both only 13. So the romance takes on a very sad angle once you realize that this is just a part of life that we all go through. We may never see our first crushes again, but they always haunt us and they put the building blocks in place for future relationships.

    I do feel the movie loses something once the storm hits but I was deeply moved by the final scene. Sam paints a picture of the beach with the words "MOONRISE KINGDOM" in the sand. Cut to the actual beach. The letters have been erased by the tide. Wes Anderson is a master of creating bittersweet moments and this is one of his most bitter and sweetest.

    I cannot wait for Cheatin'!