The Films of Wes Anderson: Bottle Rocket
"They'll never catch me, cause I'm fucking innocent!"
- Dignan, Bottle Rocket
Wes Anderson is one of the best and most fascinating people working in movies today. He's a writer and director who has made Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and the recently released The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. To say his style is distinct would be quite an understatement. He has developed into one of the most recognizable directors working today.
Interestingly, this distinct style was not as obvious in his first movie, Bottle Rocket. In fact, that movie has quite a different feel than his next three movies, which all began to show patterns and similarities, though always staying original, as well. I watched Bottle Rocket tonight for the second time. The first time I had seen it, I was drunk. Now, watching Bottle Rocket while drunk is really not an improper way to view the movie. If anything, it makes everything feel more appropriate, as the film has a definite edge of insanity to it. However, it's not the best way to view the movie if you want to be able to later remember what it's about. Watching it again tonight, I didn't recognize about half of the movie, so it was practically a brand new viewing experience.
It's all about the Wilson brothers in this movie. In fact, Owen Wilson co-wrote the film with Wes Anderson. His very absurd sense of humor is stamped all over this baby, coming across time and again in slightly subdued yet hilarious scenes. He plays the craziest character in the film, Dignan, and easily is the one who provide the most laughs. Luke Wilson, meanwhile, is the heart of the story. He stands in the middle--the one you can most identify with and care about--and yet he manages to get in on plenty of laughs, as well. His scene when he first meets Inez, a motel maid who he quickly falls in love with, is very funny. His completely inappropriate actions are both ridiculous and oddly sweet.
What all can I say about Bottle Rocket? It's a short, fun, and fairly simple movie that still has quite a bit going on with the characters. It's funny--damn funny, in an offbeat way--and has great character development. The Wilson brothers own this movie, basically, and it was the first movie for both of them. It served to launch their careers and Hollywood is no doubt better off for their presence. Not that they haven't done their share of weak movies, but when they are good, they absolutely shine. Luke Wilson has a real appeal and Owen Wilson is crazy funny, imminently likeable. Both of those realities come through clear in Bottle Rocket.
The love story between Luke Wilson's character, Anthony, and Inez is sweet and unassuming, not feeling at all forced. There's good chemistry between them. And while their relationship is important, it only takes center stage for a short portion of the movie. It doesn't overtake the story in the least. Indeed, the focus remains firmly on the relationship between Anthony and Dignan, Owen's character. The relationship between them is never entirely clear but there's no doubt that they care quite a bit for each other.
This is a fun comedy and it's a great introduction to Wes Anderson if you have yet to avail yourself of any of his movies. However, Bottle Rocket is a far cry from Rushmore, Wes Anderson's next movie. It's a very different beast. Yet there are hints in the movie of what is to come in certain scenes. The quiet, dry humor that becomes so dominant in Anderson's later movies shows its face a few different times in Bottle Rocket, usually to good effect.
If you haven't seen Bottle Rocket, check it out. It's worth a rental, without a doubt, though I don't know if you'll be able to easily find it at the local rental store. If you have a Netflix account though, or another online rental service, then put it in your queue and enjoy.
I'm going to be looking at Anderson's other three movies in the near future, in the same order in which they were released. Hopefully I'll do better with the future reviews, as this one feels somewhat stilted. Yet here I am posting it anyway, simply because that's the kind of quality I think you've come to expect from this blog.