Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is like a sort of parable — a movie in the form of a play brought to life by its child actors. It’s an open-ended sort of film that presents generations of characters who intermingle, presenting themselves in all earnestness. We see the cycle of their lives — the older adults feeling the weight of their mistakes and the blistering of life maintain an existence while being incapable or unwilling — maybe both — of change. Their neglected children dream, hope, and love, but it’s against all the doubt and fear in the world that we hope things will be better for them.
The orphaned and troubled Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) disappears from his tent during a Khaki Scouts summer camp and crosses the island to meet up with pen pal and romantic interest Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) who is also equally troubled and wishing she was orphaned. The pair begins a 10-day journey roughing it and following American Native trails while keeping an eye out for search groups made up of violent Khaki scouts, Suzy’s frantic parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), the simple policeman (Bruce Willis), and Shakusky’s former Khaki Scout leader (Edward Norton). In the wild, the children explore nature and each other, dancing on the beach, setting up camp, and entertaining themselves with one of Suzy’s sci-fi/fantasy novels.
Once the children are found, Sam faces a childhood spent in an orphanage with the prospect of shock therapy treatments which forces Captain Sharp (Willis) to question his own grasp on authority. It doesn’t help situations when Sam and Suzy escape again, this time with the help of the newly-reformed Khaki Scout troop that once hunted Sam down. The children make their way to another camp where things escalate, a giant storm floods the island, and we find a bit of resolution, or at least progression as life returns to a more enjoyable normal. It’s a complicated film disguised under an honest and charming facade where children speak and act like adults. It’s easy to forgive their mistakes because they’re children, but what about the adults? Innocence lost may be their greatest crime.