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Movie Review

Moonrise Kingdom

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and smoking.

Reviewed by: Andrea McAteer
CONTRIBUTOR—first time reviewer

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Romance Comedy Drama
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 25, 2012 (limited)
DVD: October 16, 2012
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Focus Features

running away from home / runaways

two twelve-year-olds who fall in love

sexual experimentation by teens

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

being an orphan

living with foster parents, when real parents are dead

life on an island

searching for a lost person

being struck by lightning

affairs / unfaithful wife

husband wife relationship

failed marriage

Teen Qs—Christian Answers for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.
Featuring: Edward NortonScout Master Ward
Bruce WillisCaptain Sharp
Bill MurrayWalt Bishop
Tilda SwintonSocial Services
Harvey KeitelCommander Pierce
Frances McDormandLaura Bishop
Jason SchwartzmanCousin Ben
Kara Hayward … Suzy
Jared Gilman … Sam
more »
Director: Wes Anderson—“The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Rushmore”
Producer: Indian Paintbrush
American Empirical Pictures
more »
Distributor: Focus Features
Editor’s Note: This review was written by a new volunteer. Please send us your evaluation of his/her work.

When I considered watching “Moonrise Kingdom,” I thought it looked funny and quirky. Instead, I found it dull and the characters hard to empathize with.

In the movie, young Sam and Suzy meet at a play, become pen pals and plan to meet and run away. Both, as we find out, are troubled youth. Sam is an orphan and on the island with the Khaki Scouts. We find out that his foster family does not want him back. All we are shown for his troubled behavior are a few flashbacks to the foster home where he fights with some of the other boys. Similarly, we see some school shots of Suzy, where she yells at a classmate and gets into fights. Suzy’s parents are withdrawn from the family, and we find out that her mom is having an affair with the sheriff. Suzy and Sam are kindred spirits and fall in love, and the movie showcases events as they run off, camp out and fleeing from searching parents, social services, police and the scouts.

In keeping with Wes Anderson’s style, the film has a deadpan, emotionless feel to it, which, given the right actors, can be funny. However, something was missing with this one. Unlike “The Royal Tenenbaums,” the quirky, serious acting is a bore. Newcomer Kara Hayward, who plays Suzy, does quite well with the emotionless expression, but Jared Gilman’s Sam is lacking.

One actor who I feel does very well, in spite of short screen time, is Jason Schwartzman, who plays Cousin Ben, an older scout leader who helps Sam and Suzy run off and actually marries them, although he says it is not binding since they are underage.

Objectionable Content: A letter is read where Sam says he paints nude watercolors, and Suzy wonders if one is supposed to be her. Sam and Suzy are shown in their undergarments a number of times. Suzy’s underwear is seen as she crawls into a tent, after a jump in the lake; we see Sam in a T-shirt and underwear. Suzy is in a bra and panties. They fall asleep together in their undergarments and wake up to find Suzy’s parents, the Scout master and others on the beach after searching for them. In one scene, they are dancing in underwear on the beach, and they decide to kiss. They talk about French kissing and give it a try, although no tongue is seen. Then Suzy’s comments that “it is hard,” and Sam says “do you mind,” and she responds “no.” Suzy tells Sam he can touch her chest, and he puts his hand over her breast. Later, other scouts talk about Sam and Suzy getting to “3rd base.”

Suzy’s mother is having an affair with the sheriff. All we see is the mother riding her bike to meet him, sharing his cigarette and holding hands for a brief moment. Her mother ends the affair, after Suzy says she knows about it. The sheriff offers young Sam some beer, when he drinks it, he pours him more. A scout is stabbed in the back with scissors, and we see blood on his hand and later his shirt wet with blood. Sam later punches the boy in the wound. A dog is shown with an arrow in him, dead and bloody. The scouts carry weapons, some hand made, when they look for Sam. A few characters are shown with wine and a number of the adults smoke. A child is struck by lightning, and, later, 3 people are struck by lightning and shown in silhouette hanging. All live. Sam climbs out of a window in Suzy’s home, and the sheriff is there waiting to drive him away.

Bad Language: God d—n (2), hell (2), Holy Christ (1), Oh my god (1), D-mn us (1), I’ll be d-mned (1), bast—ds (1), son of a b-tch (1), d-mmit (1).

Positive Elements: When the Scout Master finds out Sam is an orphan, he has a nice heartfelt conversation, albeit one-sided, with Sam. He says he is sorry about his family, and then says his campsite was the best he had ever seen. I liked how an adult built up the boy’s confidence by complimenting his scouting skills. The sheriff finds he wishes to take Sam in and care for him, and Sam finally ends up in a home.

This film touches on infidelity, young children starting to explore their sexuality, teen angst and rebellion. As Christians, we need to work on our marriages to keep them intact and teach our children to maintain their purity until marriage, which is ever more difficult in our world. 1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us to flee from sexual impurity. Perhaps this can be viewed as a coming of age film, but in the world we live in, where morality is often shunned, to explore kissing is one thing, to do so in your underwear and encouraging a boy to feel your chest is not proper for 12 year olds. Unfortunately, youth are exploring their sexuality in far worse ways today. For today’s portrayals of infidelity, young love and fighting/violence in film, it is considered mild.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—Another great film from Wes Anderson. Don’t hesitate to see this one, if you appreciate a film that is stylish and does not adhere to the average Hollywood fare. As for negative comments: I do not understand why people get so put out when characters in movies act like fallible humans. A loving family who sits at the table and smiles and eats dinner and goes to church and does most things right is great for the world, but BORING for cinema. Life is messy, and good movies reflect that. None of us are perfect, but we still can, as some characters do in this movie, rise to the challenge. I’m going to see it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Brook, age 40 (USA)
Positive—This movie was fine for all except the youngest of children. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Mario, age 42 (USA)
Positive—After having been raised Catholic my entire childhood, going to an all-Catholic grade school for 8 years, then an all-girls Catholic high school after that, I must share that this is definitely THE most refreshing, genuine, and truthful movie about young, budding love that I have ever seen. We (I) were taught to suppress our romantic or personal feelings, be a lady (or gentleman)… both of which occur in massive ways in this film. Yet, love happens. Budding love on a level so new and never before experienced (and, obviously, theirs much more mature than the norm) between instant (and lonely) youths reaching out to each other occurred in just one singular moment. A connection. Someone, suddenly, in this case for the very FIRST time, notices YOU, and YOU are important, wonderful… special!

Rather than feeling guilty or shut-down about it, they embrace it. Can you imagine how scared they were? Yet their feelings were so strong, and so pure, that they forged ahead in a way that was both bold, and 1000% respectful of each other. Although none of us will ever know what happened to these 2 young, strong, and alike souls (yes, because it was just a movie), it did have a major impact on me. I am 57 years old… and I totally love, appreciate and respect the feelings these 2 kids had for one another… deeper than the judgment and rules they (and I) were raised with. And how could they understand these, and inherently how to treat one another so lovingly, to the extent that they did without the powerful core of family love and Christian respect with which they were raised? That’s my opinion… and I strongly recommend this movie for its amazing message and heart. God bless.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Patty Hook, age 57 (USA)
Negative—I should have checked the review first, and I never would have gone to the film, at all. It was slow, boring and yawn inspiring, at first, and it only got worse. We walked out of the movie about ½ way through, at the part where the preteens began discussing his erection and where the boy touched the girl’s breast. Oh, and they were both only wearing underwear, at the time. It started off innocently enough, appearing as though they had gone swimming and were letting their clothes dry. The kiss was one thing. It should have stopped there. To send the message to people that this is okay was very offensive. I know kids this young and younger are actually becoming sexually active (I wonder why?), but I am not going to sit and watch it in a movie. Such a disappointment to see Bruce Willis and Bill Murray in this immoral film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Julie, age 51 (USA)
Negative—This is a twisted story about disturbed children rebelling against authority, which is also dysfunctional, wherein lies the possible sympathy for them. Many good actors are in this movie, playing oddly defined characters. I didn’t know about Wes Anderson, but now I do. He creates a world that has a dimension of fantasy, with people that have personalities that have no reflection on reality. It’s all beyond weird—a little bit like Alice in Wonderland. Not a pleasant movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Halyna Barannik, age 66 (USA)
Negative—Sure is getting more difficult to find anything *wholesome* and worthwhile to watch in these dark days, as we get closer to the end of the Church Age. At any rate, needing some R and R time, I decided to scan movies. This site is generally the first place I look, but no reviews here yet… So did I dare take a chance? The movie, after all, looks so innocent! Interesting contrast: Christianity Today (online) gives this movie a thumbs up, as though it’s dripping of sugary syrup; compare to Dr. Dobson’s plugged'n site that’s more in the vein of this one. Bottomline: no matter how “aww”… sweet the movie ending turns out to be, I will not subject myself to sit through a movie and listen to God’s name being taken in vain (with the word, “d_ _ _” associated with it) and Jesus” name being abused as well… this is not to mention the “innocent” sex, etc.
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality:
—R.J., age 53 (USA)
Negative—I would have loved the movie, BUT it had a scene with 12 year olds in their underwear, the same 12 year olds sexually experimenting, and tons of using God’s name inappropriately. Part of the movie was seriously way out of line, and how is it PG-13? I definitely turned my head and was disgusted!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Elizabeth, age 34
Negative—Things that make you go hmmmmm… The movie started with Wes Anderson’s usual quirky humor meshed into visual fashionable flashbacks of the 60’s era building up the background to the weird, non-binding marriage of Suzy and Sam Shakusky. I think the producer/director’s attention was directed at all the cinematic details, verbiage of some disturbed children and parents, and the stereotypical authoritative figures, as well as the light-hearted, sentimental background music (featuring Hank Williams, to classical artists such as Benjamin Britten) to capture his following audience.

But for goodness sake, I don’t see how you can accentuate the film through the careless lens of French New Wave by exposing kids of that age, especially as actors, to such blatant, sexual misconduct and expect to get away with it. But, I guess the child actors were given “parental consent” to do so. It seems that you put your feet into rough waters when you have children play adult-themed roles, and to what expense? When do you draw the line? From that point on, it was not a pleasant movie at all, spinning the whole of the movie off to an oblivion, in which that loose fence was capped with the Lord’s name being despicably misused. And, that particular scene cannot be excused when watching the film. To myself, they reflect a few of the problematic ideas of modernity and the imagination of the artist, overall, trying to display the troubling effects of our human society. I am not one to recommend the film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Michael, age 32 (USA)

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