Click here for the review of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, which has Karina Longworth of our big sistah paper LA Weekly astutely pointing out the similarities with the 43-year-old auteur's The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. But I was struck at the Orange County Film Society sneak-peak screening at Edwards Westpark in Irvine Wednesday night by how much Moonrise Kingdom is a homage to nearly all of the idiosyncratic writer-director's films. (I can't speak for the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox as I have not yet seen it.) My case is built like a rickety tree fort after the jump . . .
Bottle Rocket, Anderson's 1996 directorial debut, shares with Moonrise Kingdom a daring rescue, intricate planning by the leads and a pair of earrings. Shortly after Edward Norton's Scout Master Randy Ward is introduced on screen in Moonrise Kingdom, he interacts with a boy making rockets for the troop's annual "Hullabaloo." Missing in action are brothers Owen and Luke Wilson, one of whom could have at least appeared in cameo as the seaplane pilot.
Anderson's 1998 follow-up Rushmore follows an eccentric and resourceful teen scofflaw stopped in his tracks by forbidden love. Jason Schwartzman's titular character is three years older than Jared Gillman's Sam Shakusky, an eccentric and resourceful tween scofflaw stopped in his tracks by forbidden love in Moonrise Kingdom. Schwartzman, in a small role, nearly steals the newer film, which shares with Rushmore a revenge plot point and the talents of Bill Murray and composer Mark Mothersbaugh, who like Schwartzman have been Anderson collaborators ever since.
It is startling in Moonrise Kingdom when we first see Sam's young love Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), who could have been the younger version of Gwyneth Paltrow's Margot in The Royal Tenenbaums had she been old enough. (Irene Gorovaia played the young Margot in the 2001 film's flashbacks.) In Anderson's comedy about a talented family revisiting the pain experienced when the patriarch flew the coup while his children were adolescents, Margot, like Suzy, has a troubled youth, runs away, hides secrets, receives love letters, displays melancholy and wears dark eyeliner around dead eyes.
As Longworth sharply points out, Moonrise Kingdom is most reminiscent of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Anderson's under-appreciated 2004 comedy about an eccentric oceanographer hunting the rare Jaguar shark that ate his best friend. It is as if Anderson flipped the look and feel of the Cousteau-like documentaries within The Life Aquatic for Moonrise Kingdom, which was shot on 16mm and appears to have been made in the year it's set in, 1965. Bob Balaban's dry, just-the-facts narration also recalls Murray's in The Life Aquatic. Adoption is key in both films as well as The Royal Tenenbaums, and there are daring rescues in those films (if you consider Royal Tenenbaum briefly freeing his grandchildren from their overbearing father a rescue) and Bottle Rocket. Steve Zissou finds his bliss underwater, while Sam and Suzy share it in a remote island cove.
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Anderson wrote the 2007 comedy The Darjeeling Limited with Schwartzman (who also stars) and Schwartzman's cousin Roman Coppola, who co-wrote Moonrise Kingdom with Anderson. Intricate planning and a detailed itinerary for a trip across India are laid out in The Darjeerling Limited, as they are for the secret journey across the island in Moonrise Kingdom. Both films wallow in despair, abandonment and (literal and figurative) baggage. But where's Owen?