Bottle Rocket (7/26/12)

Movie One Hundred Seventy Five

Bottle Rocket follows a trio of friends that plans a series robberies and then goes on the run.

At the start of the film, Anthony (Luke Wilson) is voluntarily staying at a mental hospital for exhaustion. His friend, Dignan (Owen Wilson), plans to break him out of there, not knowing Anthony is there voluntarily. Dignan then tells Anthony about his 75 year plan, which involves a series of robberies and to meet up with Mr. Henry (James Caan). They include their friend Bob (Robert Musgrave) on the plan as their driver. The three steal a small sum of money from a bookstore and then go on the lam, staying at a small motel. Anthony ends up falling in love with one of the housekeepers, Inez (Lumi Cavazos). Upon returning home, they meet up with Mr. Henry for another big heist that doesn’t go to plan.

While I realize the description of the film sounds kind of dark and action-packed, this is a Wes Anderson movie. His first full-length film, actually. Fans of his work will recognize many of his signature touches in the soundtrack, the characters, the dialogue, and the editing, but his style has certainly been refined over the years. Whereas Moonrise Kingdom has all of Anderson’s touches pushed to their limits, Bottle Rocket seems very subdued in comparison. Some may consider this a good thing but I personally prefer Anderson’s later work.

The Wilson brothers (the lesser-known Wilson brother, Andrew, also has a small role) are  in their feature debut too and it’s actually refreshing to see them so young. I’m not much of a fan of Owen Wilson, who also co-wrote Bottle Rocket with Anderson, but as Dignan he is likable. The plot meanders a lot but it’s not necessarily a fault so much as its a quirk. I can certainly understand why it would be off-putting to some, but the showcase here is more on the characters and their adventure rather than the adventure itself, that’s just how Anderson’s films are.

Fans of Anderson will no doubt enjoy Bottle Rocket but I would be surprised if it ranks high on the ‘favorite’ lists of many. While it’s not a bad film, Anderson has clearly grown as a writer and a director, even for his sophmore film, Rushmore. If you are new to Wes Anderson’s films, I would recommend starting with another film (personally, Moonrise Kingdom is my favorite) and then work your way through the rest of his catalog. Bottle Rocket is fun and enjoyable but doesn’t always feel deeper than the short film it’s based on.

I give it 3 “why is there tape on your nose?” “exactly!”s out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


33 responses to “Bottle Rocket (7/26/12)

  1. Not Anderson’s best, but still a pretty enjoyable flick that doesn’t seem like it’s trying too hard to get us to laugh. Both Wilson’s are hilarious in here, too. Nice review Andy.

    • Thanks, Dan! If you don’t pay close attention you’ll probably miss most of the humor from the Wilsons here, now Owen Wilson really sets up his comedic deliveries and I find it kind of annoying.

  2. Good review, I haven’t seen this but I love Moonrise Kingdom so I’m willing to give any Anderson movie a go at this point.

    I’m not a huge fan of Owen Wilson either but I do think that he works better with some directors than others (I.e. Anderson or Woody Allen). If you had to pick your favorite and least favorite movies with him what would they be?

    • Favorite Owen Wilson film would probably be Royal Tenenbaums
      Lease favorite would definitely be Wedding Crashers or You, Me, and Dupree.

      His best work in my eyes is definitely with Anderson.

  3. Wow! Owen and Luke Wilson’s first ever feature film. (Not to mention Wes Anderson’s). I’ve just added it to my MUST WATCH list.

    I’ve been getting really into watching early performances by actors I like. Such as Tom Cruise in Risky Business, Vin Diesel in his self-directed Strays, and Ewan McGregor in Shallow Grave and Trainspotting.

    On a side note, I tried watching The Royal Tenenbaums the other day and I just wasn’t getting into it. I’ll have to try it again when I’m in the right mood for a Wes Anderson flick, I guess.

    • That’s really interesting, I may have to try something simliar with some of my favorites. The Wilsons both give great performances in Bottle Rocket, actually.

      I quite liked Royal Tenebaums but it’s been a few years since I’ve watched it. I definitely think you need to be in the mood for an Anderson movie, though. There’s only so much whimsy one can take if you aren’t in the mood.

      • That’s true. I could tell it was a well-made film, and if I was in the mood I’d enjoy it. Unlike the Expendables. It doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, I’m not diggin’ that.

  4. I haven’t fully jumped into the Wes Anderson pool yet. Rushmore and Royal were good, buoyant films. Moonrise was a disappointment.

    Your lukewarm review of Bottle Rocket has me intrigued — visually astonishing at the very least.

  5. That’s an interesting observation, Andy. If you didn’t “start” with Bottle Rocket and started with, say, Zissou then you probably won’t get in to Rocket, since it’s less refined and made with 30 bucks. I think it’s correct to say that Anderson makes his films – each of them – a certain way and I think it’s either going to be something you get or that resonates with you at the time and when Rocket first came out I totally got it and that’s what I was looking for. Personally, his films have kinda got a little tiresome for me – not trying to be a dick – but I think they are just made for someone who’s not me. Give me Bottle Rocket or give me nothing! : )

    • Yeah, I think if I had started with Bottle Rocket and worked my way through Anderson’s films chronologically, I would appreciate what he had done. For someone that just saw Moonrise Kingdom and wanted to start from the beginning, I really think they wouldn’t appreciate it as much. You’re totally right that you either get it or you don’t, and it’s not a slam against the viewer or Anderson, they are just very specific films.

      I thought his films had gotten tiresome too, until Moonrise came out and it’s making me go back and revisit some of his works with a fresh(er) perspective.

  6. I wouldn’t consider it Anderson’s best work, but I really liked it. Though it’s not quite up there with The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, I think Bottle Rocket’s a great comedy. Good review.

  7. Nice one Andy. I dug this out myself a few years ago after developing a taste for Anderson’s stuff. I really liked it but I agree, his later movies are much better. Personally, The Darjeeling Limited is my favourite but I’ve yet to see Moonrise Kingdom.

  8. Nice review 🙂 I’ll try to see this one soon. I like Wes Anderson a lot and it’d be nice to see how it all began. I had no idea Lumi Cavazos was in this; that’s interesting.

  9. Pingback: My July Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

  10. I typically put this at the bottom of the Anderson list. For all that it did with a decent story, I still feel that it isn’t the cult classic that a lot of people think it is. I mean, yeah it’s good, but as a freshman entry for Anderson, I don’t think it deserves all the praise it receives. That is just me though. Good review.

  11. Pingback: The Royal Tenenbaums (11/15/12) | Andy Watches Movies

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