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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.

Original and clever.

Review by: JerrySaravia

Added: 8 years ago

How many more movies about Generation X-er's who embark on a life of crime by becoming bank robbers do we need to see? This is a tale told by many, signifying very little. "Bottle Rocket" could have been the same kind of movie but it has a warmth and an offbeat sense of humor (reminiscent of "The Brothers McMullen") that makes it a cut above the rest.

The film stars Owen C. Wilson as Dignan, a young brash man with a blonde crewcut who believes the only way to make an honest living is by robbing banks. He tries to form a team with the help of Anthony (Luke Wilson), who just got released from a mental hospital, and a greasy-haired rich kid named Bob Mapplethorpe (Robert Musgrave) who will drive the getaway car because he's the only one who drives. Together this trio successfully rob a department store and celebrate...by going to a cheap motel.

Money is still a little tight, and tension starts to mount. Anthony falls in love with a Spanish motel housekeeper (Lumi Cavazos, whom you might recognize from "Like Water for Chocolate"), and worrisome Bob is concerned over his brother's arrest so he splits with the car leaving the others stranded. Dignan and Anthony go their separate ways until Dignan gets the bright idea of joining a gang of thieves, led by the crime kingpin, Mr. Henry (James Caan). The threesome pair up again for yet another heist.

"Bottle Rocket" could be just another movie about troubled twentysomethings who find that crime doesn't pay, but it is far more ambitious than that. There is a certain genial tone delivered by the quirky dialogue that makes it original and clever. The performances help tremendously. Owen C. Wilson is sharp and sincere in his film debut as the naive Dignan who plans out the next fifty years of his life and his small group of thieves - he reminds me of a younger, less buffoonish Dennis Hopper. Luke Wilson plays his role fairly straight as a typically lackadaisical Generation X-er who finds himself in love with the pretty housekeeper - Wilson and the charming Cavazos have sparkling chemistry. Robert Musgrave is engagingly frustrating as Bob. He has a lot of terrific moments where he fiddles with a gun during the planning of a robbery, and one wonderful scene where he talks about his brother's troubles. James Caan seems to be enjoying himself for the first time in a while - I only wish there was more of him. Also noteworthy is Andrew Wilson (Owen and Luke's sibling) as Bob's older, brutish brother.

"Bottle Rocket" is not a great film but it is a fresher, funnier film than "The Brothers McMullen." Thanks to director Wes Anderson and co-writer Owen Wilson, the writing is crisp and involving, and the characters are vivid and true. I must confess that the first time I saw "Bottle Rocket," I was underwhelmed and didn't know what to make of it. The second viewing, I was overjoyed and entertained. It is a first-rate sleeper and a hell of a start for everyone involved.