Moonrise Kingdom” is a tasty escape into an ordinary, magical world of a quirky bunch of preteens and their families in 1965. “Moonrise” is highly-stylized, deeply-amusing and incredibly well cast. The always unexpected writer-director Wes Anderson (“Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox”) gives us a more-deadpan- than-“Napoleon Dynamite” romantic comedy. And it involves 12-yearolds.
Set on the New England coast, the movie follows two precocious, oddball pre-teens who find each other, and it’s love at first sight. So, what else should they do but elope? The boy (Sam) is a “Khaki Scout,” the girl (Suzy), a binocular- wielding reader of fantasy books. They are barely beyond the boys-areyucky and girls-have-cooties stage, but they are definitely “in love” to the extent that young people of this tender age can be.
The way they look at each other is what John Paul II in his theology of the body” would call “the peace of the interior gaze.” There is no lusting, there is no grasping or the base kind of self-centered physical excitement: just a deep penetration into each other’s souls. They seem to know each other already, even though they must make this knowing explicit by constant communication, questioning and explaining of themselves.
It gets a bit sexual at one point, but in a truly innocent and curious way. Yes, you wouldn’t want young people getting the wrong idea that this is what they should be doing, or that this is even “normal” at 12 years old, but of course, young people today, especially girls, are physically maturing earlier and earlier, and — living in our “pornified” culture — they are exposed to so much (often perverse) sexuality at a young age.
The coming-of-age sexual encounter is handled very naturally and somewhat discreetly. It’s parents’ call whether their child needs to see this.
This film will, however, encourage kids to be themselves, pursue hobbies, not follow the crowd, express themselves in a “don’t hide your light” type of way, and be kind and loyal.
People are weird. People are unique. People don’t fit. And ultimately, the people in “Moonrise Kingdom” are OK with that and give each other some breathing room.
The end gets a bit chaotic, madcap and screwball, and doesn’t really work, but the closing scene — with a kind of new order restored — is well worth it. These two young lovers gently woke everyone up — without even meaning to.
Burns is a Daughter of St. Paul.