Moonrise Kingdom: For Those of us Who Have Always Wanted to See Bill Murray Throw his Shoe at Edward Norton

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A few days ago my good friend Sara asked if I wanted to see the movie Moonrise Kingdom. Due to my preoccupations of preparing to travel to Korea, I had never heard of the film. When I heard Edward Norton was in it, I didn’t need to know anymore. Edward Norton is my all time favorite actor except for Geoffery Rush. I have never seen him in a bad movie.

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This movie reminded me of why I love films, and why even though sometimes I feel inundated by Hollywood crap, every now and then, I can go to a theater and smile completely through a masterpiece. Moonrise Kingdom is an indie dark comedy directed by Wes Anderson. It is set on a New England Island in 1965. Two children, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) have disappeared. They had met the previous summer, and decided to run away together. Sam’s scout master Randy Ward (Edward Norton), a police officer (Bruce Willis) and Suzy’s parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray) chase after them all over the island to retrieve them as a huge hurricane threatens in the distance.

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When I watch movies, I look for the story. Because of that, I don’t particularly enjoy most comedies, because usually, comedies sacrifice the story for the sake of humor. However, that does not happen in Moonrise Kingdom. The humor is subtle, dry, and ironic. The style and situations of the movie are funny rather than a few cheap jokes. Because of that, the story has no need to be sacrificed. I also just tend to prefer this humor. It’s clever and witty and more powerful. Moonrise Kingdom has moments in which it makes fun of itself in a subtle enough way that doesn’t clobber you over the head like Sasha Baron Cohen. In most conventional comedies, you see the movie once and then it’s no longer funny. I feel like I could watch this movie over and over and still find it hilarious.

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Edward Norton lived up to my expectations. He was just outrageous enough to be funny and yet also seem to be sincerely acting. And Bill Murray was a joy to watch. I think this has to be one of my favorite roles I’ve ever seen him in (except for Ghost Busters and Groundhog’s Day of course). I hope to always remember him only wearing pajama bottoms, carrying an ax and saying “I’m going to go chop a tree down,” in the middle of the night. And then I also must mention Bruce Willis. You might have read my earlier post on type casted actors (https://hereslookinatyousquid.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/the-top-ten-most-type-casted-actors-9-2/) in which I listed Bruce Willis as number one. Before seeing Moonrise Kingdom, I have just never really seen Bruce Willis in a movie and thought, “Wow, he’s such a good actor.” He seems to play the same character every time. But tonight he surprised me, which is something I never thought I would say. I will not claim he was the best actor ever in Moonrise Kingdom (Edward Norton always steals the show) but he was better than in any movie I have ever seen him in. I didn’t keep thinking “So why aren’t you in an action movie right now?”.

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But the actors I really need to talk about are the two leads, the star crossed lovers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. This is both actors’ first movie. I think Kristen Stuart should take some lessons from Hayward. And Jared Gilman also achieved capturing my heart. I have no idea how Anderson was able to find two actors who could work so well together and feed off each other’s energy while still being so young. They should get together and make a baby, because that baby would be the best actor ever.

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And everything else about Moonrise Kingdom just seemed so perfect, from the acting, to the soundtrack, and even the special effects.  So for once I don’t really have anything to complain about. Just listen to me: go see this movie! It is awesome. I haven’t seen a better movie in theaters all summer, or perhaps even all year. Unsurprisingly, I give this movie a perfect 10.

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Reign Over Me: So Adam Sandler Can Actually Act

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Let me just say this. I a not an Adam Sandler fan. I thought Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were funny, but by the time he got to Big Daddy, his career started going downhill. The movies became redundant and subpar. After Jack and Jill, he shouldn’t have a career at all. However, after seeing Reign Over Me, I can assert with great confidence that Adam Sandler’s problems as a movie maker has nothing to do with his acting ability.

Reign Over Me, named after the lyrics of The Who’s famous song, was released in 2007. Director Mike Binder created a drama about the loss caused by 9/11. Don Cheadle co-stars as Dr. Allen Johnson, an unhappy dentist whose college roommate, Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) comes back into his life. Allen soon discovers that Charlie has had severe post traumatic stress disorder ever since his family died in 9/11. Allen tests the boundaries of friendship to get him some help, and ends up improving his own life as well.

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I really enjoyed this movie. It was extremely powerful, mainly because of Sandler’s mesmerizing performance. I was actually very surprised, because usually he’s in such, well, less demanding roles in most of his movies. But there are quite a few actors who are mainly in comedies but are very capable of dramatic performances. Take Will Farrell. Even I can enjoy Anchorman, but most of his movies make me feel like my IQ is lowering. However, Stranger Than Fiction, featuring him in a much more serious role, is one of my favorite movies. Jim Carey is also a great example. He’s known for commedies such as Liar Liar, Yes Man, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And yet he does awesome dramatic performances in the Truman Show, The Majestic (yeah, it was a flop, but I love it) and most of all, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, one of the best movies ever made in my book.

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Another thing I really liked about this movie was that it didn’t pay that much attention to 9/11. Yes, the audience knows that was how Charlie’s family died, but no footage of it is shown, or anything  It wasn’t another World Trade Center. I’m personally really glad Nicholas Cage could not touch this movie. I think not focusing on 9/11 was a very good choice because by not dealing with 9/11 directly, but exploring the effects of it through Charlie’s story, the idea of loss and grief becomes more powerful. If someone asks “What did 9/11 do?” it’s not good enough just to show them a number. You show them a devastated husband and father whose life will never be the same.

But another thing needs to be mentioned about this film. It is more than just a tear jerker. Adam Sandler would probably never be in a movie without at least some laughs involved. There are some funny moments, not gut-busting humor, obviously, or the kind of humor that undermines the true message, but enough that provides some relief at the perfect moments. I believe that it is extremely difficult toe that line, to be able to create a powerful and poignant story and still have some laughs along the way. Reign Over Me made it seem effortless.

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Anyone who doubts Sandler’s skills (like I did), or any Sandler fans should see this. It is a great film. I give it an 8 out of 10. But I’m still not going to be seeig That’s My Boy.