Tuesday brings with it the release of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom to DVD and Blu-Ray. One of the best films of 2012, Kingdom is Anderson at the peak of his game. But how does it compare to his other, similarly quirky films?
1. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Adapted from the Roald Dahl novel, Fox features an amazing voice cast, including George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Willem Dafoe and Anderson mainstays Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman. Anderson, going the stop motion route, created one of the most entertaining family friendly films in years in Fox, which follows Clooney’s Fox family as they deal with the repercussions of stealing from Boggis, Bunce and Bean, farmers who will stop at nothing to destroy the local wildlife. Fantastic Mr. Fox is Anderson at his most, erm, fantastic.
2. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Combining elements from his previous films, including quirky characters, misunderstood adolescents, and star-crossed lovers, Kingdom is far and away Anderson’s best live action film. Every frame is beautifully constructed, giving Kingdom the feeling of being a series of photographs or paintings. Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Heyward, who set the film in motion when they run away together on an island off the coast of New England, are the perfect embodiment of the angst Anderson loves to examine in his films. Edward Norton has never been goofier as a hapless scout master, and even Bruce Willis makes fun of his action hero persona as a lonely sheriff.
3. Rushmore (1998)
Bottle Rocket may have introduced the world to Wes Anderson, but his follow-up, infused with music from the British Invasion, announced his presence as a true comedy auteur. Jason Schwartzman is epic as Max Fischer, the playwright in love with a widowed teacher, and Bill Murray’s Golden Globe nominated performance as a depressed businessman ushered in a new era of cinematic dominance for the once and future Dr. Peter Venkman.
4. The Royal Tenenbaums (2002)
Tenenbaums is the last of three films Anderson wrote with Owen Wilson, which included Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. Narrated by Alec Baldwin and starring Gene Hackman, the film follows Royal Tenenbaum and his family, who have fallen from grace and genius into a very Anderson-esque dysfunctional family. Tackling some very serious topics like suicide, death and abandonment, Anderson lacked the maturity at the time to make Tenenbaums a comedy classic, but it’s still very funny and touching.
5. Bottle Rocket (1996)
Anderson’s debut film stars brothers Owen and Luke Wilson as a couple of small-time crooks who take on a big score masterminded by James Caan. Small and quirky in all the right ways, the film stands on its own as an entertaining independent film that showcases the immense potential Anderson had as a filmmaker.
6. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
The downside with Anderson’s quirkiness is, at the flip of a coin, it can take a nasty turn and become condescending and self-indulgent. It began with Zissou and hit a crescendo with…
7. The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
The Darjeeling Limited is so wrapped up in its own genius it makes Life Aquatic look like Rushmore. That is all.