AN INDIE ROMEO AND JULIET
When Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) runs away from his “Khaki Scout” summer camp with Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), the entire community sends out a search party to seek out the two runaway lovers.
In true Wes Anderson fashion this movie is made up of characters who are all quirky in some small way. But at the heart of the film is this Romeo and Juliet story. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward play Sam and Suzy like they’re part of some old French film à la Truffaut or Godard without all that smoking. There’s a weird, oxymoronic balance to their characters but Anderson always has this inane knack for finding sentimentality among a sardonically, offbeat tale. These two are it.
While Sam and Suzy are the focus of the film, Wes Anderson movies are typically known for their ensemble cast and this film is no exception. Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) usually keeps the order within his troop at Camp Ivanhoe but it is thrown into chaos when Sam escapes.
Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) is having affair with Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand) because she’s unhappy with the inattentive Walt Bishop (Bill Murray). Suzy is aware of the affair and it affects her deeply though she doesn’t really show it. She finds comfort in her books and relating to the equally eccentric Sam who similarly has difficulty relating to or trusting others.
At times the movie is absurdly amusing and other times I found it extremely thought-provoking. Sam and Suzy are precocious kids who are dissatisfied with the world around them so they search for something better. While the community has rallied to capture the two, eventually Sam’s Khaki Scout troop is swayed by their plight and even helping the two lovebirds get married secretly, though it’s not legally binding.
There is a clear divide between the adults who think they know what is best for the children and the kids who view the unhappy adults in their life as a sign to not follow in their footsteps.
Sam is an orphan who has just been abandoned by his foster family because of their inability to handle his precocious albeit sometimes destructive nature. So it’s no wonder that he has trust issues when it comes to adults. He finds an unlikely ally in Captain Sharp and together they form a family. For Suzy’s parents, losing her made Walt and Laura appreciate what they had in their family and the teamwork they once shared with each other. The kids aren’t the only ones who are maturing here.
It’s that coming-of-age quality that makes the movie heartwarming but combining it with Wes Anderson’s style of indie humor makes the movie shine. The movie is not going to be a winner for everyone though as some might find the pacing a little slow, the story a little too offbeat but if you’ve watched his previous films and enjoyed it then this is right up your alley.
But apart from anything or anybody else, I was mostly amused by Sam and Suzy and the kids that play their characters.