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Film / Moonrise Kingdom

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Sam Shakusky: What kind of bird are you?
Girl: I'm a sparrow, she's a dove...
Sam Shakusky: No. I said... [points to Suzy] What kind of bird are you?
Suzy Bishop: I'm a raven.

Moonrise Kingdom is a 2012 tween comedy-drama film by Wes Anderson.

Set in a 1965 New England island town, the movie follows an innocent and quirky Puppy Love and Coming of Age story between Sam and Suzy, a pair of 12-year-old social outcasts who try to run away together.

Sam is an orphan who has gone through several foster homes, and is now a member of the Khaki Scouts, but has difficulty fitting in. Suzy is living with an incredibly dysfunctional family, where the unfaithful mom's a control freak and the dad is distant, and both deem her "troubled." After a year-long correspondence, they both decide to run away, and the film follows them as they hike across their island - with the police chief, the scoutmaster, Suzy's parents, and Sam's fellow Khaki Scouts all in hot pursuit. While the bulk of the movie is carried by the two leading child actors, the movie has an All-Star Cast in the adult supporting roles with Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton.

The film opened the 2012 Festival de Cannes. In a similar vein to The Darjeeling Limited, Wes Anderson also shot a four-minute short to complement the main movie, which can be seen here.

Moonrise Kingdom provides examples of:

  • The '60s: The time period the film takes place in.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • As mentioned under Shout-Out, Bruce Willis has some experience with tying a rope to himself to keep himself from falling off a building.
    • This isn't the first time that Bob Balaban has played a character with a background in cartography (or interrupted a large group of people by yelling "excuse me," for that matter).
    • A magazine featuring a picture of Commander Pierce (played by Harvey Keitel) features the quote, "Are we men, or are we mice?" This is a paraphrase of a quote said by a character also played by Keitel in Bad Lieutenant.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Everywhere Sam goes, he gets picked on for no particular reason. The Khaki Scouts of his troop do it because he's an orphan until they realize that this is a stupid reason (besides Head Scout Redford, who picks on him because he can). He's apparently been picked on at all of the various foster homes he's been sent to as well.
  • Aside Glance: After Suzy opens Sam's package, her eyes widen and she looks into the camera, then walks briskly away. At the end of the film, before exiting the frame, Suzy stops and stares at the camera again, then leaves.
  • Attack the Injury: When Sam is confronted again by Redford at Fort Lebanon, he punches him in the boy's stab wound from their previous scuffle.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Sam is a skinny 12-year-old with glasses, but he's confident and bold, a skilled outdoorsman, and a scrappy fighter. A montage of his activities in the foster home shows him doing sit-ups in his bunk and delivering a Groin Attack to a larger bully.
    • Suzy is an avid sci-fi and fantasy reader, but is also capable of stabbing people with lefty scissors.
  • Because I Said So: Captain Sharp: "I can't argue with anything you said, and I don't have to, because you're 12 years old." He's actually a pretty decent fellow and a Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • Beta Couple:
    • Scoutmaster Ward and Becky, the telephone operator. She feeds him and volunteers to join his search party. At the end, he's got a picture of her beside his tape recorder.
    • Captain Sharp and Mrs. Bishop.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Suzy's brothers listening to the record player while she reads on the windowsill although at the end, the camera rotates to show Sam opposite them, painting.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • There are several segments where the local librarian addresses the audience, talking about the setting, time period and the legendary storm that is about to hit. He appears several other times in his regular capacity as a local resident, including sending up a weather balloon.
    • Suzy gives the camera an Aside Glance in the beginning and end of the film.
  • Captain's Log: Ward records a scoutmaster's log throughout the film. On the first night of Sam's disappearance, he expresses his worries about Sam and the morale of the troop. On the second night, after he learns that Sam is being sent to an orphanage, he is too despondent to record anything and simply trails off. After the storm, he happily reports that the reconstruction effort is progressing increasingly ahead of schedule, which he attributes to a strong esprit-de-corps among the troop.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Suzy's lefty scissors. In true Chekhov's Gun fashion, they are even seen hanging on the wall in the opening shot of the film.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Suzy's parents' legal background comes in handy at the climax.
  • Child Hater: Subverted with Cousin Ben. He is introduced belittling and cursing at kids while trying to sell them supplies that should be free, but gladly marries Sam and Suzy, tells them they should take their vows seriously, and is willing to provide them shelter and jobs.
  • Childhood Marriage: Sam and Suzy, technically unofficially. They're married by an older Khaki Scout, who is quick to tell them that, no, this won't have any legal power, but the thought counts.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Sam and Suzy, given their social awkwardness and somewhat idealistic approach to life. Since this is a Wes Anderson movie the quirkiness of each adult character sometimes can also reach Cloudcuckoolander territory.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Averted with Sam, but mentioned by Suzy. "They're always my favorite characters." Given her parents, not a surprise.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Sam sure knows how to plan a camping trip.
  • Custom Uniform: Redford is the only scout in Troop 55 who wears a dark brown uniform, likely a symbol of seniority.
  • Cute Kitten: Suzy's pet cat.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: It's The '60s, so a scoutmaster smoking around kids isn't considered unusual, though he should probably keep his cigs farther away from the fireworks. Sam also smokes a pipe, though this would have been unusual even back then.
  • Department of Child Disservices: Social Services is cold, intimidating, and the place she intends to send Sam (yet another overcrowded orphanage) is illustrated with a grim photograph — and he'll receive electroshock therapy to correct his behavior.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Sam smokes one in a couple of scenes.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Suzy moans, grunts and yelps when Sam is the first to penetrate her... earlobe, with a fish hook. Then they share their first kiss (and French kiss) and Suzy awkwardly lets Sam touch her chest.
  • Domestic Abuse: It's implied that Suzy's mother beats her father. By the end of the film, he's sporting two black eyes.
  • Double Meaning: When Sam asks Suzy, "what kind of bird are you?" he is asking about her costume, but he might also be asking (in the era of the British Invasion), "what kinda gal are you?" Whether or not she takes his second meaning could be a Secret Test of Character for her.
  • Dramatic Irony: Sam tells Suzy how he feels at home with his latest foster family, unaware that they have already decided Sam is too much to handle and will not allow him to come back to them.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The main reason why Suzy agreed to run away with Sam.
  • Dysfunction Junction: All the characters (especially the adults who play more than a bit part in the story) are really, really messed up and miserable.
  • Easter Egg: Going to another section of the DVD and then back to the main menu will change the picture on the main menu (on the Criterion edition, these backgrounds play back-to-back instead).
  • Electric Love: When Sam and Suzy share their supposed Last Kiss, this happens due to the former being struck by lightning earlier.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy Is Torture: Discussed. When Social Services reveals Sam will receive shock therapy, Ward and Sharp question why it's necessary. Social Services states it is because the case file attributes Suzy's stabbing incident to Sam. But even when Sharp and Ward correct her, it is grimly implied she plans to go ahead with it regardless, making it a case of unnecessary shock therapy on a minor. The Khaki Scouts finally help Sam out in order to avoid this, and Sharp decides to call out Social Services and adopt Sam for the same reason. Ironically, Sam ends up getting shocked by something much more dangerous than an ECT, but turns out fine.
    Cousin Ben: (on Suzy and Sam living on a crab boat) It won't be an easy life, but it's better than shock therapy.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Suzy and Sam kiss for the first time after dancing to French singer Françoise Hardy's song, "Le Temps de l'amour."
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • "Social Services" might as well be her actual name. Hell, she's named in the opening credits as "Social Services."
    • The chef for Troop 55 is only ever called "Chef" by his peers.
  • Evil Costume Switch: After getting his ass kicked in a fight, the ringleader of the khaki scouts, Redford, returns in a Red Cross-decorated hospital gown, but the way he stands makes the cross insignia look like an X, giving him a startling appearance similar to an unhooded member of the KKK.
  • Evil Redhead: Khaki Scout Redford is a redhead and the most antagonistic of the scouts towards Sam. He's also the only member of the scouting troop to not accept him either.
  • Fan Disservice: Bill Murray appears shirtless and flabby in one scene holding an axe. Underage Sam and Suzy in their underwear could also count.
  • Fictional Document: The books Suzy stole from the library for their trip, and are read throughout the movie, are fake; one artist created each cover, and Wes Anderson himself wrote the passages Suzy reads aloud.
  • Flying Postman: Since the island of New Penzance is separated from the mainland by a ferry, they receive their mail via air from Jed, who owns the seaplane. He's also responsible for bringing Social Services to the island.
  • Foreshadowing: In the establishing shots moving around Suzy's house, several paintings of locations seen later in the movie can be seen (shown in the order in which they appear in the story). Suzy's house (seen from the outside), the post office, Fort Lebanon and the church.
  • For the Evulz: Scout Redford tells Sam to his face that he hates him for no reason, and that's a good reason as any.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: Washes away the sign for the annual performance of Benjamin Britten's Noyes Fludde, and traps the Falcon Scout commander AND manages to set fire to his tent.
  • Greaser Delinquents: The other kids at the foster home, who bully Sam.
  • Groin Attack: When a larger bully at the foster home makes aggressive advances on Sam, he punches the kid in the crotch and runs for it.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Suzy admits that she tends to "go berserk."
  • Harmless Electrocution: An Ash Face is pretty much the worst Sam gets from being struck by lightning as the storm approaches, along with his shoes catching fire.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Khaki Scouts of Troop 55 have a Heel Realization that they've been abusing Sam just for being different, and resolve to atone for it. Redford the ringleader doesn't turn, but he's an asshole.
  • Heel Realization: The Khaki Scouts undergo this after one of them asks how would they react if they were orphans, and generally feeling sorry for Sam getting separated from Suzy.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Sam loves Suzy, though the fact she has red hair appears to just be a coincidence.
  • Homage: This movie can be considered Wes Anderson's homage to the French New Wave movement. In a shout-out, Sam and Suzy listen to French songs after their runaway.
  • Ice Queen: Tilda Swinton's character, Social Services.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Suzy slips one on Sam during their "wedding march."
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Scout Master Ward has his patch torn off by the Falcon Scout commander after managing to lose his entire troop. He earns it back after saving the Scout commander from a simultaneous flood and fire, and directing the Scout coalition to safety.
  • Interactive Narrator: The narrator shows up at one point in the movie, both to break up the fight between Captain Sharp and Walt and inform them where Sam might be. The promotional video linked at the top of the page has him stating that he is the local librarian.
  • Irony: The Khaki Scouts finally decide to help Sam escape in order to help him avoid dreaded electroshock therapy, but Sam ends up getting shocked by a full-on lightning bolt in the attempt.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Suzy tells her mother Laura she knows about Laura and Captain Sharp, whom Suzy calls "that sad, dumb policeman." Laura sighs and says, "He's not dumb, though I suppose he is sad."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • The Khaki Scouts in Sam's troop treat him like dirt because they consider him emotionally disturbed. However, once their new de facto leader (as Redford is out of commission) realizes this is a stupid reason, he inspires them to pull a collective Heel–Face Turn and help Sam run away with Suzy again.
    • Cousin Ben mouths off to scouts and charges them for items they should be given for free, like an emergency aid kit, but he acts as minister for Sam and Suzy's "wedding," and opts to give them a ride out to sea so they can work on a crabbing boat. He even turns the boat around so Sam can get Suzy's forgotten binoculars.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • When Suzy is reading a book to Sam at Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet, the scene cuts after she says "Part 2." This is at roughly the halfway point and the following scene marks a major shift in the plot. In essence she acted as a Title Card.
    • As a Call-Back to the "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" record heard in the opening, during the end credits suite, Sam narrates Alexandre Desplat's music (including name-dropping him at the start), priming the audience of which instruments are coming in and out. When the song and the credits are over, Sam finishes with "Thank you for listening."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Scoutmaster Ward. "Ward" means to protect or watch over.
    • Redford is a redhead. It could also be a Shout-Out to Robert Redford, who starred in Little Fauss And Big Halsy (wherein his character rode a motorcycle, much like Redford).
    • Lazy-Eye, since he has a patch over one eye.
    • Chef, who is the troop's chef.
  • Metaphorical Marriage: Sam and Susie, who are both 12, convince Sam's cousin Ben, a teenage senior Khaki scout, to marry them to each other. Ben explains that the marriage won't have any legal standing, but the symbolism is important.
  • The Namesake: Halfway through the movie, Suzy and Sam agree to rename Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet. The new name isn't revealed until the ending via Sam's painting of the location with the words Moonrise Kingdom.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The confrontation between the scouts and the runaways. It's apparently an epic fight, that results in the motorcycle up a tree, one of the Scouts shot in both arms, Suzy stabbing Redford with her scissors and Snoopy accidentally getting run through by an arrow.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Some of the Khaki Scouts, mostly because the adults addressing them do not make an effort to learn their names. Lazy-Eye, on the other hand, even has this "nickname" sewn on his uniform.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Played for laughs when Scoutmaster Ward saves Commander Pierce from the explosion.
  • Papa Wolf: Captain Sharp is outraged by the idea of Sam being sent to an institution and subjected to electroshock therapy, and at one point threatens Social Services with a nail bat (belonging to one of the Khaki scouts,) should she try and take the boy. Fittingly, he becomes Sam's new foster parent at the end of the movie.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: Inverted with Suzy's brothers when it comes to heroics but they are pajama-clad for most of their screen-time and depicted as such on the movie's promotional posters and Blu-ray/DVD covers.
  • Parental Bonus: Downplayed. To younger audience members, the $76 would seem like a fair amount of money but nothing crazy, older audience members will be able to account more for inflation (since this is 1965) and know that the $76 is actually worth a LOT more... as in $562 of 2014 currency!
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: The adults catch Sam and Suzy sleeping together in their underwear.
  • Puppy Love: Suzy and Sam for the entire movie.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: When Sam first meets Suzy, her hand is bandaged from punching the mirror in her bathroom. When Sam asks her about it, she matter-of-factly states that she was disgusted with herself.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Scoutmaster Ward (only after Sam runs away, though) and Captain Sharp. For Wes Anderson films, they're quite reasonable.
  • Recurring Element: Suzy's brothers playing games or listening to music together in their bare feet but not always in their pajamas.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Khaki Scouts of Troop 55 are treated as such by the other scouts after they pull off their Heel–Face Turn.
  • Rule of Funny: Sam escapes by cutting a hole in his tent and covering it with a map on the inside. This is a send-up of classic prison-break films. In this case, of course, the hole would be easily spotted outside of the tent. The map would hide the hole only from Sam himself. This might be justified by the Scoutmaster simply being that oblivious.
  • The Runaway: Teenage elopement (well, pre-teen). Both kids leave together through islands surrounded by large bodies of water with an incoming hurricane. The parents caught up with them sleeping in their skivvies. Said kids later "marry," and while their escape/suicide attempt is foiled, they end up hanging on for dear life when the storm strikes.
  • Scout-Out: The Khaki Scouts, of course. Rather than a "Jamboree," the Khaki Scouts have a Hullabaloo (referred to as a Jubilee in the original script), and the ranks are mostly based on different kinds of birds (Pigeon and Falcon are the only two mentioned).
  • Serious Business: The Khaki Scouts run their ships military. The whole movie has an undercurrent of Comically Serious, actually, so you're bound to find more examples than this.
  • Shock and Awe: During the final chase, Sam leads the rest of the Khaki Scouts on a massive chase around a field, during a hurricane. He gets up on a rocky outcrop, ready to face down the horde... and is struck by lightning. He's fine, except being covered in soot and having his shoes set on fire.
  • Shout-Out:
    • An obvious reference to The Shawshank Redemption when Sam escapes his tent at the start of the film (using an incredibly thin paper material to cover up a hole in a wall), and a more subtle visual allusion to A New Hope during the climax, when Sam and Suzy sidle around the church tower. Also, remember that other movie where Bruce Willis had to tie a rope to himself to keep from falling from a great height?
    • The author for the sci-fi book "The Girl From Jupiter" (one of the many books which Suzy carries) is "Isaac Clarke," a combination of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.note 
    • Another author is named "Virginia Tipton."
    • The Khaki Scout camp is called Camp Ivanhoe.
    • Though his surname is never actually said in the movie, Cousin Ben's uniform has the name, "Mazursky" stitched into it (which can be seen clearly here).
    • The entire movie takes place on the island of New Penzance.
    • One of the rivers on St. Jack Wood Island is called "Dawson's Creek".
  • Signature Style: The film is dripping with Andersonisms. The costumes, the soundtrack, the tracking shots, etc.
  • Sleeping Single: Walt and Laura sleep in single beds separated by a nightstand.
  • Suicide Pact: Invoked and discussed during the climax. When Sam and Suzy attempt one last desperate escape, they're on top of the church tower and will be leaping into shallow water... with the remains of the fence jutting sharply upwards. They decide to jump, anyway, and Sam says that just in case this turns out to be suicide, he loves Suzy.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The "narrator" even tells us exactly when and the strength of the historic storm.
  • Take My Hand!: The end of the film, with Captain Sharp holding on to both Sam and Suzy from the ruined church steeple. "Hold on."
  • Their First Time: Downplayed in how far it goes. Sam and Suzy share a kiss, then a French kiss, then Suzy lets him feel her up.
  • They Have the Scent!: After Sam goes missing, Troop 55 uses Snoopy (the troop's dog) as a tracker for Sam by giving Snoopy one of his socks.
  • Third-Person Person: Social Services, a woman representing... Social Services, never using her real name.
  • Title Drop: In Sam's painting at the end, revealed to have been spelled out on the beach with pebbles.
  • Token Minority: Khaki Scout Panagle is the only non-white character in the movie.
  • Travel Montage: The montage tracks Sam and Suzy's trek across the island to their secret cove.
  • Tuckerization: Three locations on the island (Yeoman Lane, Roman's Ruins and Fort Stockhausen) are named after people involved in the production of the movie. Yeoman for Robert D. Yeoman (the cinematographer), Roman for Roman Coppola (the co-writer) and Stockhausen for Adam Stockhausen (the production designer).
  • Uncanny Valley: In-universe: Suzy's dummy left behind by Sam and the rest of the Khaki scouts causes her brother to scream and alert her parents to her second runaway attempt.
  • The Un-Favourite:
    • Suzy thinks she is this after she finds a book about dealing with problem children in her family home.
    • All of Sam's previous foster parents got rid of him and labeled him as a problem child, even though it's clear that it's all the other kids who had the problem. His most recent family apathetically gives him up via a curt letter, and when called to pick up Sam after his escape, they simply can't be arsed.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Throughout. "I need chicken wire, shredded newspaper and a bucket of wheatpaste." You don't find out what it is for a while, and you think "It's going to be more Noodle Implements, isn't it?" But eventually, this trope is subverted when that plan fails as soon as one of the Khaki Scouts describes it.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization: Nearly every Khaki Scout brings a weapon with them when they start searching for Sam, which shows them to each consider Sam to be dangerous and preparing for the worst.


Video Example(s):


Every Wes Anderson Film

This Honest Trailer points out the structural similarities of Wes Anderson's films.

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