Day 365. Holy shit.
Lesson learned; no more Anderson.
Three friends rob a bookstore to get the attention of a supposed underworld crime boss, hoping to move up in the world of high stakes burglaries. Unfortunately, they’re idiots.
Well, I tried. I gave him every chance but it seems that Wes Anderson and I were just not meant to be. Bottle Rocket, made before he fully embraced the stylistic quirks he has become best known for, was described to me as his most accessible movie. This was meant to be the Wes Anderson flick for people who don’t like Wes Anderson flicks. But other than another endearingly romantic dumbass performance from Luke Wilson, there was really nothing here to grab my interest. If I hadn’t had this column to write, I would have turned the film off after ten minutes.
I normally quite enjoy caper and con movies, but to be successful in that genre it helps if your lead thieves are either competent or at least likable. This crew are neither. Owen Wilson’s Dignan is both a moron and a prime dickhead. Every time he opened his mouth to start talking I just wanted someone to punch it closed again. The character has no redeeming features whatsoever, but the fact that I couldn’t completely hate him was solely down to Owen’s portrayal. Luke Wilson fares a bit better as Anthony. Nobody can play the lovestruck fool like Luke Wilson, and Anthony is another to add to the list. His burgeoning relationship with Inez the housekeeper was the emotional core of the movie for me. It was quite a sweet courtship although it did send the entire middle section of the film into a tailspin as far as the plot was concerned. As the third leg of this criminal tripod, Robert Musgrave might as well not even be there.
James Caan lends the proceedings a bit of class as the odd Mr Henry, Dignan’s former boss and criminal mentor. In Henry we see some of the idiosyncrasies that would soon become the Anderson trademark, such as the man hosting a party in his home wearing a kimono (complete with a samurai topknot) that goes completely unremarked on.
As the debut feature for pretty much everyone involved, Bottle Rocket is a significant piece of work. It’s just a shame it doesn’t work for me as a piece of entertainment. I think I’ll just leave Wes Anderson aside from now on.