Trailer Face-Off! Moonrise Kingdom vs. Wanderlust

Published February 2, 2012

Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Moonrise Kingdom vs. Wanderlust, two movies about couples making epic adventures in nature, with hilarious actors who fill in the rest of the movie magic.

PremiseWes Anderson’s first live-action film in five years, Moonrise Kingdom, tells the blossoming ’60s-era first-love story of two youngsters, Suzy and Sam (Kara Hayward and Jared), who run away together, Sam from camp, Suzy from home, into the wild. Cue the worrying parents and subsequent search parties that include Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel and many more who quirk it up for Mr. Anderson.

Wanderlust‘s story is in a similar vein: a couple, George and Linda (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) goes into the American wild, somewhere between Georgia and New York, after George loses his swanky New York City job and the couple must move off the island of Manhattan. After some frustration living with George’s brother, Party Down‘s hilarious Ken Marino, the couple wings it and hits the road, eventually ending up at an intentional community, a commune called Elysium Bed and Breakfast, where the fun begins and no doubt realizations will be made.

We can’t help liking Moonrise Kingdom, which is the case for every Wes Anderson movie that comes out. However, our curiosity certainly is piqued by Wanderlust. Just what would happen if we ever left the city for an adventure that accidentally led us to a commune? In the end, both prove interesting enough to garner a tie.Advantage: Tie

Leading CoupleSo which duo to pick? Wanderlust’s storied actors certainly put up a fight. Paul Rudd has done pretty much no wrong in our eyes since nabbing Cher Horowitz in Clueless, and Jennifer Aniston has been on a comedy streak opposite some pretty funny dudes. Then there are Moonrise Kingdom‘s nubile youngsters, played by the newest of newcomers—Hayward and Gilman, who are both acting in their very first film. Compare that debut to Jennifer Aniston’s first movie, Leprechaun, and Paul Rudd’s strange screen premiere, A Question of Ethics, a Christian short about the values of cheating, in which he was credited as Kenny Chin. Leprechaun, both hilarious and haunting us still, combined with Rudd’s weird first film, can’t really stand up to the magical experience that must be making your first movie with Wes Anderson.Advantage: Moonrise Kingdom

Supporting CastBoth movies have talented supporting actors. With Moonrise Kingdom, as with any other Anderson film, that acting cache is huge and impressive: Harvey Keitel, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton and old Anderson casting favorites Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. But Wanderlust doesn’t disappoint either. Supporting talent includes hottie Malin Ackerman (Watchmen), Justin Theroux (Your Highness), Alan Alda, Ray Liotta, Reno 911!‘s Kerry Kenney, and Six Feet Under‘s Lauren Ambrose. But what ekes out the win for Moonrise Kingdom are the cute youngsters who play Sam’s hilarious and combat-ready fellow campers.Advantage: Moonrise Kingdom

OutdoorsinessBoth films present a good amount of nature interaction. Wes Anderson can make anything quirky and lovable, including sharks and selfish leading men, so we have no doubts Moonrise Kingdom and its outdoor amorous adventure of camping, sailing, painting with watercolors, river-crossing and compass-navigating will be pretty and funny and touching. Wanderlust presents its own outdoor fun, with goat milking tutorials, cohabitation with horses, endless recreational games on the lawn, and some hallucinogenic time communing with nature. Neither is more successfully outdoors-y than the other.Advantage: Tie

DirectorMoonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson’s newest film in three years. Though he is certainly fits the definition of an auteur and is loved by Martin Scorsese, it does not mean he can’t disappoint. Anderson’s last live action flick, Darjeeling Limited, was underwhelming, though stylistically beautiful. Still, we already love the thought of him taking on a movie with a childhood love story at its center and his typical familial themes on the sides. Wanderlust, too, has a directorial contender in David Wain. David Wain, the director behind Wet Hot American Summer, Role Models and hilarious TV shows Stella, The State, and Childrens Hospital, is a writer-director just like Anderson. With Wanderlust, he enters a bigger arena with big-time leading lady Jennifer Aniston, names like Liotta and Alda, and comedic talents Theroux, Kenney, and Marino. We see promise in both Wain and Anderson’s films.Advantage: Tie

VerdictIn the end, both movies pique our interest, and we have to say we’re surprised by how much we’re intrigued by the off-kilter romantic comedy Wanderlust promises to be. Still, Moonrise Kingdom comes out with the win here, thanks to its big-name acting and directing talent, its subject matter, and, most of all, the talented kids that make every Wes Anderson movie great.Winner: Moonrise Kingdom 

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