I’m on the record as being among the rare cinephiles who find Wes Anderson’s style too twee, his films too ineffectual, to really hit as intended. So, it speaks to just how excellent The Royal Tenenbaums is that I not only can abide by Wes Anderson’s sensibility for the length of it but actually enjoy it.
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A young man named Anthony (Luke Wilson) is “rescued” from a voluntary psychiatric ward by his friend Dignan (Owen Wilson), and the two decide that they are going to become small-time criminals. They decidedly prove to be amateurs; Bottle Rocket, however, proves that even from his debut feature film, Wes Anderson was no amateur. In the past, I’ve found Wes Anderson films to be a bit twee (twee: excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty, or sentimental) for my taste, but Bottle Rocket feels like an appropriate combination of Anderson’s unique style and more conventional filmmaking; while I wouldn’t want a world where Wes Anderson didn’t have the freedom to express his own stylings, I do wonder what kind of films he could make if he adopted more of a conventional style.
Nonetheless, Bottle Rocket is an impressive debut film, a clear indication of Wes Anderson’s future potential, and an excellent use of the deadpan stylings of the Wilson brothers. While the Wilson brothers (and Owen Wilson, in particular), have strayed over the course of their careers to very broad comedies, I love their energy in this kind of indie setting.