After last week’s soul-crushing discussion of Dear Zachary, I figured we should change gears to something a little lighter before we dive back into another heavy film. And who better for something like than than Wes Anderson?

This week’s film, Bottle Rocket, was the first film Anderson made, and the screen debut for both Luke and Owen Wilson. The 1996 film centers around two directionless screwups as they decide to start their life of crime, holding up a used book store shortly after leaving a voluntery mental institution. A large chunk of the film takes place as they are on the run, laying low to wait for the heat to pass in a small motel in the middle of nowhere. During their stay, Anthony (Luke Wilson) falls in love with Inez, one of the maids at the motel while Dignan (Owen Wilson) tries to find a way for them to leave after their driver leaves them there.

Part of what makes this film so interesting is the fact that it was Anderson’s debut. Despite that fact, the style that he would later make famous is already present. And despite criticisms of his later works being too “style-over-substance,” the relationships in this film are potently troubled. Dignan is a manipulator who isn’t very good at manipulating, and Anthony follows him because he’s the most interesting person he knows. They’re both directionless people trying to create their own direction through the means they feel are best. While Dignan tries to live a life of crime, Anthony doesn’t feel fulfilled by it.

A reminder that this film is available on Netflix Watch Instantly, as well as the recently-released Criterion edition DVD and Blu-Ray. Be sure to watch the film and discuss it with us in the comments section below. Remember, the discussions are spoiler-heavy, so don’t read the comments until you’ve seent he film.

8 Responses to Film Festival Week 4: Bottle Rocket

  1. John says:

    Just watched it. I’ve gotta say, my favorite scene was James Caan doing karate with the Asian dude wearing tighty whities. That shit was hilarious!

  2. Savory Cade says:

    Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors, but for some reason Bottle Rocket has never done anything for me. I think I actually like Life Aquatic better.

  3. John says:

    I’ll agree that it wasn’t the best Wes Anderson movie I’ve ever seen, and in the end I thought it was just pretty average. There were a few things I loved about it, though. 1) The colors. Not sure if this makes sense, but I loved the scenes at the hotel with Owen Wilson’s clothes and the background of the sky, grass, pool, etc. Something about it almost had a “technicolor” feel to it. 2) The big heist scene at the cold storage place. That was fucking awesome! Just to watch the whole damn thing crumble under their incompetence was beautiful. And BTW, who the hell thinks of robbing a little safe in a cold storage facility? That’s just awesome! (About as ridiculous as robbing a strip-mall bookstore and then going on the lam).

    Anyway, the characters were pretty great (especially James Caan), and it was quirky enough to make it interesting. But yeah, not my favorite.

  4. damo says:

    This is actually the first Wes Anderson movie I’ve seen, and I thought it was pretty good. I also loved the entire cold storage facility scene – I thought they were actually going to pull it off, and then one thing after the other happens.. So funny.

    I have to say something about the whole relationship with Inez stuff. I totally wasn’t expecting it, and the fact that these two completely different people somehow found each other and fell in love was great (even though they couldn’t really communicate). And the parts where Anthony had the translator kid there were awesome.

  5. Mitch says:

    Yeah, I think that the romance with Inez really worked well, far better than I had expected.

  6. deadward says:

    ***POSSIBLE FANBOY ALERT****
    I know what you are talking about with the colors. That type of thing, to me, is what I love so much about Wes Anderson’s movies. The individual scenes are all so well constructed, almost like a moving photo album or something… (that sounds dumb, I know but I can’t think of how to describe it…) You can see his hand or eye or whatever in every shot. In Bottle Rocket it’s not as prevalent, but you can see the beginnings of it. The epitome of this for me is The Royal Tenenbaums, which is probably my favorite movie ever. There is so much going on in every scene, and many of the shots are straight on and framed like a photo. I’ve watched it a million times and always seem to notice something new.
    The other side of this, and what is even more amazing to me is that Anderson is (arguably) able to pull this all off without overpowering the actors or the story. I love his stlye and that he is able to add something unique and personalized to making movies.

  7. carrotpanic says:

    I’m a little disappointed, I just thought it was average and forgettable.

    Funniest part of the movie: “Yo tengo uno situacion mi familia!”

    By the act break where Owen punches Luke and leaves him in the desert, I was done caring about the movie, but the heist scene was a good reprise.

  8. Wolf-Bot says:

    I just didn’t care for the movie at all. From the first 15 minuets I knew it was not going to be a film I would enjoy, so I just switched it off and put in ghostbusters.

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