There are people that love Wes Anderson movies and people that hate them. I lean more towards the hate, but he’s done a few good films. It’s just odd that he always has the same approach, and I wish he’d mix things up a bit. It’s always 60s songs, lots of color, and Bill Murray or a Wilson brother.
I went in expecting to hate this and was pleasantly surprised to find I was only bothered by the third act.
The story takes place off the coast of New England in 1965. Two 12-year-olds run away together. He’s in a Boy Scout type of troop and she’s a raven in a local play. They meet-cute, and a scene with them exchanging letters is wonderfully done. The adults – not so wonderfully done. In Anderson movies, they’re often not given enough and are one dimensional.
Tilda Swinton was wasted as the mean social worker, and so was Bill Murray as the usual character he plays in Anderson films – the guy who looks wild and crazy, but has just sort of checked out on life. He does get to wear his golf pants.
Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff, and it’s interesting to see his character start to care for the boy, who we find out is an orphan. I also thought it was interesting having Edward Norton as the Khaki Scout troop leader who isn’t the mean taskmaster we think he’ll be. He actually cares about his job and the kids.
The kids, played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, have wonderful chemistry and are a joy to watch. I enjoyed how they didn’t go over the top with how they acted. She’s brought some books and her cat. He’s brought a lot of supplies, including a pipe he smokes, often as he encourages her to “go on” while she reads aloud. And as Norton points out later – it’s one well done camp site they set up.
With such an impressive cast, you think the movie will do well at the box office. You think teenagers would like it, too. The film is going to be a hard sell. It’s kind of like A Christmas Story or A Princess Bride – which we all love, but that didn’t do so well at the box office. This film reminded me of A Christmas Story, but it’s not nearly as good.
It was fun having character actor and writer Bob Balaban do the narration, and there’s a rich musical score (with Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh credited with the “marches”). I’m guessing older adults with watch this, and think back to those magical times of reading Life magazine and listening to a record player – instead of the kids that now sit in front of the TV playing video games.
This was an enjoyable movie, but not nearly as funny as some critics are going to tell you it is; or that guy sitting near me at the screening who was laughing harder than I’ve ever heard a person laugh.
It gets 3 ½ stars out of 5.