Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Bottle Rocket


Since I really liked Wes Anderson after seeing Moonrise Kingdom and fell in love with him after The Grand Budapest Hotel, I’ve been going back and taking either another look or a first look at his other stuff. Loved The Royal Tenenbaums, thought The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou didn’t quite work. Now I need to see Rushmore and maybe The Darjeeling Limited again. No need to try The Fantastic Mr. Fox again, I didn’t like that one at all. (Sorry, Wes, but everyone misfires now and then.)

But the one under discussion now is his first film. It was expanded from a short two years earlier, and was also the first appearances of the brothers Wilson: Andrew, Luke and Owen. All three of them are from Texas (Dallas and Houston) and they made this on very little money. The movie follows the insane exploits of three very strange guys who seem intent on a life of crime, but are only concerned with outward appearances. In real life they would soon wind up in prison, or gunned down by police. But they, and this movie, have little to do with real life. Dignan (Owen) is the “brains” of the outfit. He has their lives mapped out for the next fifty years, and plans everything in the minutest detail, and gets huffy when real life doesn’t conform to his scripts. Everything they do is a disaster, but they survive it all.

It just didn’t work for me. It never seemed to make up its mind if this was supposed to be laughable, or taken seriously. I guess it’s possible to mix the two, but it takes someone with immense talent to do it, and at this early point in his career Anderson didn’t have it. But it got his foot in the door, largely because of a cult following led by Martin Scorsese, who loved it.

(Wikipedia footnote: Wes Anderson is the great-grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs!)