Wes Anderson has always been known for creating great comedic characters, from comically unlikable characters like Max Fischer, Royal Tenenbaum and Steve Zissou to lovable eccentrics like Dignan and M. Gustave. Anderson’s films walk a fine, bittersweet line between comedy and tragedy, with many laugh-out-loud moments set between harrowing dramatic beats.

One of the best films of Anderson’s career – his warm, nostalgic coming-of-age romance Moonrise Kingdom – will be 10 years old this year. From Sam to Suzy and Captain Sharp to Social Services, Moonrise Kingdom features some of Anderson’s most hilarious creations.


10 Sam

Sam in the Kingdom of the Moonrise

Jared Gilman gives a delightfully naturalistic performance as one half of Moonrise Kingdom‘s central romantic duo. Sam is a foster child who hops from family to family. He’s a smart kid with a good heart who suffers from serious mental health issues that make it difficult to get along with other kids.

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Throughout the film, Sam has many laughs. Gilman nails all dead one-liners. When Snoopy is killed by a stray arrow and Suzy asks if he’s a good dog, Sam philosophizes, “Who’s to say?” The young actor nails all the physical gags too. When he’s being chased through the woods by a whole squad of scouts, he’ll do a few loops in a wide, open field.

9 susie

Kara Hayward as Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom

Kara Hayward gives Gilman just as phenomenal, just as naturalistic a twist as the other half of the romantic dynamic. Suzy bonds with Sam because they have similar emotional issues, and Suzy also has to deal with the fact that her parents consider her “a very concerned kid.”

While Hayward brings plenty of dramatic depth and pathos to the role of Suzy, she also gets all the comedic performances spot on with one-liners like “I think you still got a flash in you” and “I know what you’re doing” this sad, stupid cop.”

8th Commander Pierce

Harvey Keitel brings the same dry wit to Commander Pierce’s angry outbursts about missing scouts that he brought to Mr. White’s angry outbursts about unprofessional behavior Reservoir Dogs. Pierce is the voice of reason in an organization full of “beige maniacs”.

Keitel’s role culminates in a hysterical gag in which Scout Master Ward achieves redemption. Pierce is stuck in a tent with a flood tide on one side and exploding fireworks on the other, and is rescued by Ward (who carries him out on his back).

7 Mr. Bishop

Bill Murray plays Suzy’s father Walt with such hysterical one-liners as “Our daughter was kidnapped by one of those beige lunatics!” This is one of Murray’s most understated performances in an Anderson film, closer to Raleigh St. Clair than Steve Zissou.

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Sam and Suzy’s blossoming romance stands in sharp contrast to Suzy’s parents’ fading marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Bishop are both lawyers and there is a great running gag where they talk to each other as if they are in court and call each other “counselors”.

6 Scoutmaster Randy Ward

Edward Norton has given a number of dark, brooding, gripping dramatic performances – including multiple characters with multiple personalities – over the course of his career, but he shows his goofy side with the role of Master Scout Randy Ward Moonrise Kingdom.

Nobody cares more about the Khaki Scouts than Randy, but he’s hopelessly incompetent. Despite his best efforts, Randy manages to lose one of his scouts and then his entire squad.

5 The narrator

The narrator looks up at Moonrise Kingdom

The narrator by Bob Balaban offers ominous foreshadowing in the opening scene of Moonrise Kingdom, as he announces that a devastating storm is just days away. The narrator has taught Sam about cartography so he knows where he and Suzy are going.

The narrator is primarily burdened with providing explanations, but Balaban’s subtle odd performance does much to round him out as a distinctive (and very amusing) character.

4 cousin ben

Jason Schwartzman Moonrise Kingdom

Jason Schwartzman, one of Anderson’s most frequent collaborators, has a memorable cameo in Moonrise Kingdom. Ben, the older cousin of one of the Khaki Scouts, throws an unofficial wedding ceremony so Sam and Suzy can get married before they run off together.

RELATED: How Moonrise Kingdom Reinvents Romance Tropes (And Why It’s Still A Great Love Story)

In his brief scenes, Cousin Ben hysterically scolds the kids when they chew gum through his speech or try to cheat him out of his fee (which is just a jar full of loose change).

3 Mrs. Bishop

Frances McDormand Moonrise Kingdom

Murray’s role as the jealous, self-destructive, and deeply insecure Mr. Bishop contrasts with Frances McDormand’s role as his cold, cheating, emotionally distant wife, Mrs. Bishop.

Mrs. Bishop is primarily a dramatic character, a wife and mother with a husband she doesn’t really love and a daughter with serious emotional problems, but she does have some comedic moments – like using a megaphone to talk to her husband and her Talk to children near the house – which knocks McDormand out of the park.

2 social services

Social Services wear a blue dress in Moonrise Kingdom

Tilda Swinton’s bureaucratic social services worker is never given a real name; It is literally referred to as “social services”. This satirical cartoon represents the government’s cold, callous, and impersonal treatment of troubled children like Sam.

Swinton is hilariously deadpan in the role, saying that Sam will receive electroshock therapy with the same carefree casualness with which she asks Randy’s name.

1 Captain Sharp

Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp in Moonrise Kingdom

Bruce Willis delivers one of the most nuanced and down-to-earth performances of his career as Captain Sharp Moonrise Kingdom. Sharp is a lonely, deeply unhappy police officer who is in love with a married woman.

He finds new meaning in his life when he decides to adopt Sam to save him from electrocution therapy. Like Mrs. Bishop, Sharp is more of a drama than a comedy character – but Willis’s dry lines make for laughs aplenty.

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