Moonrise Kingdom

Perhaps “West Side Story” sums it up best: “There’s a place for us. Somewhere a place for us.”

To me, the movie “Moonrise Kingdom” reassures people who don’t fit the normal mode of acceptable behavior dictated by the popular, “in-crowd” that even outcasts will grow up, and find a place in the world of their own choosing.

Who knows? Perhaps these oddballs and less popular kids will even find someone else who doesn’t fit in, to pitch their tents together in the same campground, either metaphorically or perhaps even literally. It’s hard enough to be a young adolescent, much less a young boy or girl with the sort of personality quirks that make them stand out, not necessarily in a good way. Luckily, the boy and the girl in “Moonrise Kingdom” find each other, and hatch a scheme to abandon the constrictions of society. How much more liberated would each of us be if we weren’t held back by the rules of acceptable behavior?

Set in 1965, the girl Suzy meets the protagonist Sam, and they are immediately drawn to each other so they hatch a plan to run away. Suzy lives in a meticulously painted red lighthouse where she can look out on the world she seeks to leave behind. Sam is an orphan (something he never mentioned to his Khaki Scout leader), and he has been dumped in summer camp because his foster parents can’t seem to handle his personality quirks. Sam is charming in the same sort of way the adolescent heroine in “Little Miss Sunshine” is. In fact, the two movies share the same sensibility. The protagonists in both films want to become more than what they are.

As Suzy and Sam pack for their journey around to the other side of the island, to a cove they label Moonrise Kingdom, Sam takes care of the maps and the camping gear while Suzy carefully packs a battery operated record player, her fantasy books about young girls breaking away from the sort of world that constricts them, and, of course, her much loved kitten. Another question this brought up is: what would you bring along if you were to escape from the mundane ordinariness of your rather dreary, seemingly boring, ordinary life?

Then, naturally, things get complicated. A wicked storm brews, much like the storms of adolescence, and all the adults desperately try to track down the two misfits. The adult actors, perfectly cast, nevertheless take a backseat to the troubles Suzy and Sam face as they navigate their way around a first kiss and their burgeoning attraction to each other, in the face of hurricane-like weather.

As in any good comedy, all’s well that ends well, and it turns out to be a good thing to root for these misfit outcasts who truly only want to be understood. It’s definitely a film worth seeing, especially if you’ve ever felt like an outsider to your own life.

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