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Bottle Rocket

Released: 1996

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 1 hr 31 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Wes Anderson

Starring: James Caan, Owen Wilson, Robert Musgrave, Luke Wilson

Wes Anderson’s directorial debut, about two misfits planning a heist.

A directorial debut of almost uncanny poise.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 8 years ago

Like Tim Burton with Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and, more recently, Steve McQueen with the amazing Hunger, Wes Anderson made a directorial debut of almost uncanny poise and excellence with 1996's Bottle Rocket. All of the themes that would become emblematic of Anderson's work are here: the social misfits, the elaborate set decorations, the smooth compositions, the irony-tinged humor. Unlike his later work, the irony doesn't get in the way of us feeling something for the characters. Like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, Bottle Rocket is a film of genuine emotional depth.

Written by Anderson and Owen Wilson, the story is about Anthony (Luke Wilson), a former mental patient who gets in a series of misadventures with his friend Dignan (Owen Wilson). The two are part of a close circle of friends of in the Texas suburbs. This includes one of my favorite characters in recent movies: Bob (Robert Musgrave), a grown man who's forever tormented by his bully of a brother, perfectly named Future Man (Andrew Wilson).

As Dignan plots an elaborate heist, the trio hides out in a secluded motel. There Anthony falls in love with a maid named Inez (Lumi Cavazos). The scenes of them overcoming their language barrier are sweetly hilarious.

The film ends with the most devastating shot Anderson has ever captured, or even attempted. Revisiting Bottle Rocket, I couldn't help wishing this filmmaker would come back down to a more recognizable human orbit.