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Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) are on the run in Wes Anderson’s delightful MOONRISE KINGDOM

MOONRISE KINGDOM (Wes Anderson, 2012)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St.

In such unique films as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Darjeeling Limited, black-comedy master Wes Anderson has created a bizarre collection of characters who seem to live in their own alternate realities. In his latest, Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson has once again assembled an oddball assortment of men, women, and children in a terrifically clever and entertaining fairy tale all its own. Tired of being abused by his fellow Khaki Scouts and dismissed by his foster parents, twelve-year-old orphan Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) runs away from Camp Ivanhoe on the island of New Penzance, much to the chagrin of dedicated scout master Randy Ward (Edward Norton). Meanwhile, twelve-year-old loner Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) is fed up with her life as well, which she mostly spends listening to Benjamin Britten, reading fairy tales (fictitious stories made up by Anderson), watching the world through a pair of ever-present binoculars, and despising her parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand). Afraid of what might have happened to the children, the local police officer, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), gets involved, as does a stern woman from social services (Tilda Swinton) and, eventually, a very different kind of scout, Cousin Ben (Jason Schwartzman). The proceedings are overseen by a narrator (Bob Balaban) who ends up being more than just an omniscient presence. Moonrise Kingdom is an absolute gem of a film, an exciting, original tale about growing up told in a fabulously funny deadpan manner that combines slapstick humor with wildly ironic elements, filled with the endless wonders of childhood, although it is most definitely not for children. Newcomers Gilman and Hayward appear wise beyond their years in the lead roles, with outstanding support from an all-star cast, most prominently Norton as the by-the-book scout master on a mission. Written by Anderson with Roman Coppola and featuring a lovely score by Alexandre Desplat, Moonrise Kingdom is one of the best films of the year, by a director whose imagination never ceases to amaze.

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