Between superheroes fighting super egos with over-the-top special effects and men in unitards trying to keep the world safe from evil, it's difficult to hark to a story where an audience can root for puppy love to triumph against natural disasters and grown-ups' obstacles. With our high-tech sophistication and jaded and decadent imaginations, we don't expect Hollywood to mix nostalgia and idealism in a movie with smaller-than-life-size characters. But it can happen.
If "Girls," the HBO hit sitcom, is the voice of a generation of unhappy men and women in their 20s who live the promiscuous life bequeathed to them through privilege, education and liberation, "Moonrise Kingdom," from independent movie director Wes Anderson, recalls lost innocence that links us to the past in a fresh way.
It's a fantasy with Hollywood stars that says we can still believe in the power of young love. Touching and tender emotions can, too, survive in a time suffocated by "sophistication." It's the cinematic pause that refreshes, a momentary summer escape from health care debates and tales of gun-running to Mexico.
Soon enough, we'll have to settle in and take campaign rhetoric as seriously as we must. "Moonrise Kingdom" is the microcosm that magnifies the smaller emotions easily forgotten in the larger world where politics and culture smother sentiment, and encourage the young to grow up too fast, imitating the worst values of the generation preceding them.
The movie evokes what might happen if Huckleberry Finn and a very young Jane Eyre were recast as Romeo and Juliet, who cut out for the territory with only immaturity and passion for each other to guide them. Or better, they're a pre-teen Adam and Eve who get a brief second chance to get it right.
The movie carries a PG-13 label, but it's not written for children so much as about the rest of us when we were young. In fact, some of the 13-year-olds I saw it with found it a trifle icky when the boy and girl kiss and dance on the beach in their nether garments. But grown-ups watching the world through the moviemaker's lens can reflect on their own lost innocence, and rue the way the culture has speeded the attention spans of children.