The talents of a stellar cast-- including Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban and Bill Murray-- were squandered on this oh-so-quirky modern fairy tale from Wes Anderson, a director with cultlike status among film buffs. It was a hit at Cannes last year, which should have told me something. Anyway, the rave reviews got me there--that and my friend N. who also had heard it was good. She certainly liked it better than I, staying awake for the whole thing.
The story centers on the burgeoning romance of two pre-teens, and there's the rub--there are an awful lot of kids in this movie, most of them in odd little uniforms. So many, in fact, that watching the film feels like being a counselor at a Boy Scout camp. The young unknown stars portray a couple of dorky misfits who develop a relationship and decide to run away together, escaping their weird parents. (Yawn.) Off they go through the woods, maps and binoculars in hand, and set up camp on an island that is ostensibly in Maine but turns out to be Rhode Island in the credits. Naturally, all the grown-ups look for them. That's the plot. Just for fun and to have something exciting going on, there's a storm brewing for the entire movie, but alas I slept through it and woke up only in time to see the damage. (Didn't look too bad, a building or two were felled.)
Be forewarned: Bill Murray looks really old and is not at all funny. Frances McDormand has about six lines. Bruce Willis is great but not nearly the man you love. A cute dog dies, and I'm hoping that was a stunt. Everyone looks dumpy and dowdy, the film quality is dark and dreary, the dialog is muffled and garbled, the sound track is classical music, the seats are so comfy and......zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.