The straight-faced comedy had many in the audience I watched this with scratching their head in bemusement. Two couples left early, as they were probably expecting a variation of My Secret Garden.
In short, 12 year old Sam is an orphan, though no one seems to be aware of it; even his Khaki Scout leader, played with deadpan aplomb by Edward Norton, is surprised by this news after he learns Sam (Jared Gilman) has run away from Scout Camp. Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) is the 12 year old girl that Sam is in love with and with whom he has run away.
As Police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) leads the search to find the missing kids, a storm is brewing off shore from the small island (so small, they get their mail by plane). Our one man chorus (Bob Balaban) pops up now and then to inform us of the history of the island, the strength of the storm and once to interact with the main characters, an odd action for a chorus.
The search leads to violence and brings the attention of Social Services (Tilda Swinton) who plans to place the orphan Sam in a asylum-type juvie where a part of his brain will be removed, his fellow Khaki Scouts fear.
Harvey Keitel plays the leader of the popular Scout Camp on the bigger neighboring island. Keitel and Norton play their roles with ironic understatement as the tremendous storm creates disaster after disaster. Bill Murray and Francis McDormand play the parents of Suzy in the strictest fashion expected of husband and wife attorneys. Their small talk sounds like an episode of Law and Order. No wonder she has her eyes set on the single Police Captain.
For those of you who prefer slapstick humor like that of Adam Sandler, this movie may not be your cup of tea, per se. Although that lightning scene might have been to Sandler’s liking. The use of color by Wes Anderson is always a marvel to behold and the camera angles themselves became inside jokes.
I always prefer my humor dry, and despite that very funny storm, the rest of the film stays witty and thought-provoking. Your knees will be safe from any slapping, but the sarcastic grin you’ll be left with will probably stay fixed for a few days.