Scout leader Ward (Norton) sends out a search party when preteen scout Sam (Gilman) runs away from the camp. He can't get far on this New England island, and it turns out that he has run off with Suzy (Hayward) daughter of a local couple (Murray and McDormand). As Sam and Suzy's naive love blossoms in the wilderness, local police Captain Sharp (Willis) takes over the search and calls in Social Services (Swinton). But these kids are more tenacious than anyone expects.
The film is shot in Anderson's trademark straight-on visual style, with intensely yellow costumes and settings and splashes of orange and rust.
Everything is so heightened that we can't quite believe any of it, even if the attitudes and feelings of the characters are extremely resonant, from the runaways' inability to understand the nature of their passion to Suzy's parents' inability to escape the distractions of their jobs as lawyers.
Cleverly, Anderson and his cast portray this young romance as something far more intense than anything the adults feel. Even McDormand's secretive affair with Willis feels stale, while Norton's overgrown scout is perhaps a little too keen to solve the problem even if he doesn't really seem to have his heart in it. Meanwhile, Gilman and Hayward give the overachieving Sam and the curious Suzy a realistic sense of youthful curiosity as their odyssey takes a few wild twists and turns.
All of this is assembled in a way that's so mannered and deliberately wacky that it may leave some audiences cold. But Anderson is stirring in gently emotional subtext while indulging in nutty slapstick and knowing cinema references. And as the film continues, he cleverly taps into the adventurous child within us. Even the rather silly appearances of Balaban's posing narrator have an underlying pathos. So by the end we're surprised how much we care about these rather exaggerated characters. Mainly because we can see ourselves in them.
Run time: 94 mins
In Theaters: Friday 29th June 2012
Box Office USA: $45.5M
Box Office Worldwide: 64
Distributed by: Focus Features
Production compaines: Scott Rudin Productions, Indian Paintbrush, American Empirical Pictures, Moonrise
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 210 Rotten: 14
IMDB: 7.8 / 10
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp, Edward Norton as Scout Master Ward, Jared Gilman as Sam, Kara Hayward as Suzy, Bill Murray as Mr. Bishop, Frances McDormand as Mrs. Bishop, Bob Balaban as The Narrator, Tilda Swinton as Social Services, Harvey Keitel as Commander Pierce, Lucas Hedges as Redford, Jason Schwartzman as Cousin Ben, Charlie Kilgore as Lazy Eye, Chandler Frantz as Gadge, Gabriel Rush as Skotak