So, I finally saw Moonrise Kingdom this weekend and it was good. Well, actually, it was my second least favorite Wes Anderson movie. My least favorite is everyone’s least favorite: The Life Aquatic: Curse of the Steve Zou Bisou. That movie I just straight up hated. But I didn’t hate Moonrise Kingdom. Far from it. I already said it was good, OK? But I like all the other Wes Anderson movies (except Life Aquatic) more. Some people hated Darjeeling Limited, but I didn’t, I liked it, and I liked it better than Moonrise Kingdom. It’s weird how I said that it was my second least favorite, which is pretty straight-forward, but then I clearly still felt compelled to explain in detail what that means, as if it wasn’t so obvious. You guys are really tough! Ahhh! There’s no appeasing you guys! But so, here’s the thing about Moonrise Kingdom that I thought was very interesting: it would have been a much better movie if Wes Anderson hadn’t made it. Let me explain:

When the trailer for Moonrise Kingdom came out, it actually seemed like a very well done parody of a trailer for a Wes Anderson movie. The music, the picture book images, the just-so outfits, the CHARM. And the truth is, that’s because the movie itself felt like a parody of a Wes Anderson movie. It was good, like I said, but it was also very familiar. The friend who went to the movie with me pointed out that Sally was “very Margot Tannenbaum, but not nearly as interesting.” True! And there were all the familiar motifs: the somehow naive-and-yet-beautiful childish illustrations all over the place, the Ikea-catalog-caliber-perfection-(and-predictability) of every geometric object fetishization layout, the casually imploding marriage, the gobsmacked adults aiding and abetting the all-too-clever children in their more-mature-than-the-adults adult pursuits. (Speaking of being all too adult and all too clever, I have to say that I found the scenes where they were painting and dancing on the beach in their underwear made some people, hard to say which people, a little uncomfortable. Did you know the actress was only 12 at the time of filming? Eek!) The point is: it was very Wes Anderson-y, like so much.

But pretend for a second that it wasn’t. Or, at least, not “The Wes Anderson.” Like, pretend it was his first movie. Or that it was some other newcomer’s first or second movie. (In this make-believe scenario that was invented for the sake of argument, the imaginary Geist-like creator of the film would have created a Moonrise Kingdom that felt wholly original in the way that the actual Moonrise Kingdom feels wholly-Wes Anderson, the point being in this fake scenario you wouldn’t just think “oh what a rip-off of Wes Anderson.” Follow? OK great.) The movie would be great! Oh, there would still be the Chris Hansen creepiness of the underwear-boner scenes, and there would also be the simple fact that the main character seems WAY too confident, bold, and self-assured to also be a miserable and put-upon nerd orphan. But overall it would be gently funny, and visually beautiful, and an overall delight.

This, of course, is the problem with being very good. You set your own standard, and when you yourself fall below that standard, well, good luck.

I remember reading some Mindy Kaling quote during the first post-Steve Carrell season that was in response to the vague critical sense that The Office had grown tired lost its Carrellian mooring and was now firmly past its prime. She said something to the effect that if you pitched a brand new TV show that starred Ed Helms, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Craig Robinson, etc, etc, that it would get picked up in a heartbeat and everyone would be excited to see it. Which is true! No one ever said The Office doesn’t have a great cast. (It also has good writing.) But at a certain point, you get tired of eating the same lunch every day, even if that lunch is FILET MIGNON (widely recognized as the finest lunch there is). This is the curse of being filet mignon.

There’s no solution to this problem. You never really gauge anything by some kind of hermetically-closed system. There’s always outside influence. Maybe you were having a bad day the day you saw/read/heard something. Maybe the waitress at the Williamsburg movie theater that serves brunch dropped too many sets of silverware during the climax. Maybe you’ve got a history of having seen that director’s other movies, and so you cannot help but gauge his new movie against the measuring stick of his previous movies and therefore find this one, despite its individual merits, to be lacking and/or vaguely recycled and/or LESS THAN.

Oh well. CURSES!

Comments (107)
  1. I haven’t seen Moonrise Kingdom yet but I have to say Life Aquatic is probably my favorite Wes Anderson movie. It’s the one with the most Bill Murray and least Gwyneth Paltrow. Case closed.

    • Life Aquatic is awesome. Willem Dafoe’s character is hilarious, and it has “Search and Destroy” playing over a gunfight. Case closed.


      • Yeah it’s great. Pretty much every line of dialog is either hilarious, heart-wrenching, or both. Plus, the whole thing is just beautiful to look at. It’s the only movie that has ever made me cry in the theater (and laugh hysterically as well).

      • If you don’t like Life Aquatic then you don’t like going on rides and if you don’t like going on rides what are you doing at the movies? Go to your local library take a random book off of the shelf, hold it up to your head and predict how you think it should end. Then if it doesn’t end that way tell everyone you didn’t like it. Repeat until satisfied that you’ve proven your point that stories don’t live up to your expectations.

    • I won the Filmspotting podcast’s weekly Massacre Theatre feature a couple years ago, back when the prize was a free dvd from whichever website they directed the winners too. In that episode where they announced my name (or some episode before it, i can’t quite remember) a Wes Anderson film had come out and they were going over his filmography and The Life Aquatic had gotten flack.

      So when I won I requested my prize be the Life Aquatic because I think people are way too hard on that film. I greatly enjoyed Zissou’s grief-stricken, slow burn of a manic episode that plays out throughout the film, and Willem Dafoe was excellent, as were all the Portugese David Bowie songs.

    • concert_addict, I would say Rushmore also falls into your criteria for a Wes Anderson movie and is much better than Life Aquatic.

    • so great! keep that case closed!

    • Put me down for some of that. All his previous films had seemed to me just a smart guy doodling. In Life Aquatic he finally made a world. Also it’s Murray at his Venkmanest.

    • I liked Life Aquatic the most out of all of them. Hated Rushmore when it came out but should probably give it another chance now that I’m older and wiser.

      • I like Aquatic the least but possibly because of the circumstances under which it was experienced. I was home for Christmas and my parents decided we should go to the movies. Well, whatever we’d aimed to see — probably a Lord of the Rings — sold out just as we got to the ticket window. So my parents began to fumfer and I said, “Well, this one’s got Bill Murray, and I like the director’s previous movie a lot.” And so.

        We were probably less than 20 minutes in when I realized this movie was not the Rushmore2 that I was hoping for and it was never going to transmute into that. It was going to plod on in its weird way, and with a sinking feeling (aquatic joke you guys) I found myself completely unable to watch it except through the eyes of my parents, whose patience would be at or below zero for scenes like Angelica Huston just starting to the left while Jeff Goldblum stared to the right, and who were never going to say, “The story was slow and the people were weird but GODDAMN — Portuguese Bowie, that makes up A LOT of ground!”

        So in a way I have never seen Life Aquatic. My parents have, and they didn’t like it. But not me.

        • Yeah, watching arty stuff with your parents is rough. One time in college I brought Life Aquatic to a dorm-room movie gathering (people asked me to bring a movie since I had a lot of DVDs) and it went over like a ton of bricks. Obviously, what people really wanted was to drink and talk while Back to the Future played in the background (no duh), not sit quietly and watch an arty movie about a depressed oceanographer.

          It’s a really great film however, and it’s super funny and moving if you give it a chance.

          I don’t really get how you can like Rushmore and not like Life Aquatic? Then again, I’ve always preferred The Royal Tenenbaums and Bottle Rocket to Rushmore myself. But they’re all very much the same style, the same sense of humor. I can’t really imagine loving one of his movies and hating any of the others.

    • “Son of a bitch, I’m sick of these dolphins.”

      That line is why I love Wes Anderson, and Life Aquatic in general. Steve is done with the majesty of the ocean, so he plunges further into the abyss to find what he’s really looking for. Of course, it’s on the nose, but what other filmmakers are doing that right now?

      His laugh lines are almost always poignant character moments. I feel like I don’t need to provide examples because you could probably just google “Wes Anderson quotes” and see what I’m talking about. This man is amazing and I relish every frame he puts out.

      No one does cinematic comedy like he does, and it seems the backlash (I threw up just typing that) is proportional to his impact.

      A good filmmaker tells stories. A great filmmaker creates worlds.

    • Can we all agree that while Gabe is right about most things, he is wrong about The Life Aquatic, because that is by far the best of wes anderson’s work. I can agree that it is maybe the most indulgent of his films, but also the one that is the most moving. It has the best Bill Murray character, second to his role in Rushmore, it has the saddest death scene, it has the best soundtrack, and really killer lines. Also Jeff Goldblum, William Dafoe, and Cate Blanchett. CASE DISMISSED.

    • I feel like there lots of good THINGS about it which I like very much, but like, all together, I just don’t really like watching it? I get bored with it. and then I feel bad because I’m like “it’s Bill Murray! and Portuguese David Bowie songs! and fucking cool surreal sea life and intricate sets! Goldblum is so ridiculous! How can I be bored with this?!” But I am. It’s like a lot of pieces and quirks that are awesome but they aren’t sewn together well or into something meaningful.

  2. My favorite Wes Anderson movie is Darjeeling Limited not because it breaks the broad stroke consistencies of his movies (broken family, quirky characters, etc.), but because the setting forced him to scale down his suffocating aesthetic sense, inadvertently letting his characters breathe a bit.

    And it’s the only Anderson movie that starts as one thing and suddenly veers into completely new emotional territory. And it’s funny as shit. I would love to see what he’d do with the constraints of a Duplass brothers production. But that will never happen. This joke is made a lot on this blog, but he really is destined to be our Woody Allen, a closed loop of talent that cannot seem to be rerouted into new or surprising territory.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • Not as far as Woody Allen has! I can only think of two movies that I’ve ever turned off out of sheer disinterest: Vicky Christina Barcelona and A Tall Dark Stranger. I feel like Woody’s direction must be mostly “please say this like you are a freshman theater major and you are trying to very earnestly talk like an adult with adult thoughts.”

    • I say this as a huge Wes Anderson fan and a white person and somebody who enjoys The Darjeeling Limited, but I sometimes have a hard time getting into that movie because it is soooooo White People Problems. It’s my least favorite of his.

      • I just thought it exoticized the non-white characters into absolute nothing.

      • I can’t think of an Anderson movie that isn’t white people problems (excluding foxes, of course) — that’s practically his motto. I think DL threw that milieu into stark relief.

        Anderson was clearly aware of his characters’ privilege. Certainly he expected us to laugh at their insularity and immaturity.

        As to whether the Indian characters were taken on their own terms or were treated as anonymous totems in service of the white characters is a matter of personal perspective. I thought he handled it well, but I get why many would disagree.

        • I definitely agree that to a certain extent all of his movies can be considered white people problems, but there is always something about the characters that I can relate to on some level. I don’t really feel much for the DL characters, and while I can enjoy the story, I ultimately don’t really care about their problems.

          • This is exactly how I feel about it but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I like the film, but it is my least favorite because I just didnt really like the brothers or give a shit about any of their problems. Adrian Brody’s character running away from his soon to be fatherhood? sorry, dont feel too much sympathy there. the throwing of the baggage at the end? ugh.

          • Shedding their baggage? Damn, that was so on the nose I missed it.

    • Except Woody Allen eventually made Match Point which was, tonally at least, new territory.

  3. I showed my fiance Rushmore for the first time last night, and she said it was really cute and quirky. Prett much dead on the nose. She wants to see his other movies now and I said “We’ll see Royal Tenenbaums and then Mr. Fox, then I’ll let you decide if you’ve had your fill of We Anderson.” We’ll see how she feels.

  4. Oh, and the sexuality in Moonrise Kingdom. Everyone seems way more freaked out about the girl than the boy, which I guess is just the way people are about the genders.

    But honestly I thought it was handled with honesty and without any leering nonsense. It was sweet and funny. And I’m pretty sure 12 year olds know all about desire and boners and whatnot. It’s the adults that have to go and make it weird.

    • I totally agree that it was a relatively “honest” depiction of that kind of thing, but the question becomes whether or not we need a visual depiction of it. This isn’t a movie for children, it’s a movie for people who listen to “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” on NPR (if the audience I saw the movie with was any indication). So, if it’s a movie for adults, then it is (actual for real) children pushing boners into each other for adult eyes. And THAT is the part that makes it a little weird. This isn’t a particularly subversive paragraph in Bridge to Tarabithia or whatever. This is fetishized childhood for people who haven’t been children in decades.

      • Speaking of Bridge to Tarabithia, is anyone else weeping uncontrollably right now? Just me?

        • I went to a party last night and three women — all in their mid-thirties — were talking about that book and started to well up just talking about it. So, um, no. Not me. Definitely not me. Or me last night.

      • Do you think Anderson was pushing the limits of taste for pushing’s sake, or was he just caught up in his own quirkiness?

      • I agree that it is a depiction of childhood for people who haven’t been children in a long time, but I think that’s just because it is such an honest depiction. Nostalgia isn’t a hard feeling to manipulate in a movie, but Anderson’s style is what makes it enjoyable.

    • Maybe I was really sheltered, but I did not know about boners when I was 12.

    • Everybody knows that the only time it is acceptable to depict prepubescent minors in love on film is if their parts are played by adults like in Wet Hot American Summer. Otherwise it’ll turn all innocent adult viewers into all manner of paedohebephiles.

    • I thought the beach-underwear stuff was the best part of the movie. It was the really the only scene that had a ring of truth to it. The rest of the film is all frippery. Except the soundtrack is truly awesome. Excellent use of Benjamin Britten.

  5. I was extremely delighted by Moonrise Kingdom. I finally got around to Bottle Rocket last night and oh my is it hilarious.

  6. agreed. I liked the darjeeling limited better than this movie as well. Although I wandered into a movie theater on vacation and it happened to be playing, it beat out anything else in the theater.

    Moonrise Kingdom, we waited months in anticipation, it was only released in select theaters to great reviews and profits for a limited release. Then I drove 2 hours to the theater that played it. I hadddd to like it after all that…

  7. I admittedly have not seen this yet, but in its infinite defense: Tilda Swinton. I rest my case, I drop my mic, I walk off stage.

  8. I was a little uncomfortable with that beach scene, too. But other than that and the scene where the kid gets struck by lightning which was a little too ridic and pointless, I really liked the movie. I’d put it somewhere in the middle on the Anderson Quality Scale.

    Oh, and I love The Life Aquatic! I know a lot of people don’t, but I’d rank it evenly with The Royal Tenenbaums (with both behind Rushmore, which is obvs the best).

  9. Remove the too-on-the-nose Sigur Ros song from The Life Aquatic and it’s easily Anderson’s second or third best film. IN MY OPINION.

    • How can you even call Sigur Ros “on the nose”? Like, that doesn’t even make any sense as a criticism of Sigur Ros.

      • I wasn’t criticizing Sigur Ros, or the song, just the placement of that song in the film. I don’t think I used “on the nose” right. All I meant was that the music is heavy handed in the way it tells you that the scene you’re watching is cathartic, rather than letting you experience it for yourself. (P.S. I like Sigur Ros a lot. Their new album is great.)

        • Ah, I guess I could see that. Personally, I think it works as a sort of “fantastical” moment that is not really intended to be literal (given how purposely storybook-like the shark and other creatures look) but it is pretty blatantly pulling the ol’ heartstrings at that moment.

          I thought you were implying that it was somehow like the shot of the rat at the end of The Departed or something.

  10. Rushmore was the first Wes Anderson movie I saw, and still my favorite – and I would argue, his best. Clearly an homage to Harold & Maude, it skirts the line between quirky and heartfelt in the right way. Royal Tenenbaums and the Fantastic Mr. Fox are also great films; Bottle Rocket is good.

    The Life Aquatic and Darjeeling Limited are failures. Life Aquatic is his worst: as an older Atlantic article put it, Anderson’s movies are often “drowning in quirk.” Like Woody Allen (whom I also love) he has the ability to make great art, but too often recycles old ideas. I have yet to see Moonrise Kingdom but hope this isn’t the case with it.

    • I’m enjoying trying to figure out what prompted the downvote here. It’s just an opinion, politely stated. I’ll upvote for the sake of balance, even though I think Bottle Rocket is GREAT.

      • The thing is, I *love* Wes Anderson. I was 18 when Rushmore came out, and saw it around the time I first saw Harold and Maude. Both movies are linked for me: on the one hand because as a young college aged guy I felt a bit quirky and out of touch (like Max Fischer and Harold) but also they’re both great humanist films. You can tell that Wes Anderson (and Hal Ashby with H&M) understood who Max was, his motivations, and why he acted the way he did. Zaniness aside, I think it’s easy to see someone like Max Fischer existing in the real world. Woody Allen’s best film, Annie Hall, is like this: it’s quirky but you could really see a couple like Alvy and Annie existing, and failing – but Woody was able to tap into something intrinsically human.

        Life Aquatic fails in this respect. There’s no humanist element at its core; it’s pretty to look at, and maybe it’s the most “Wes Andersony” of Anderson’s films – very quirky, very weird, and enmeshed in a very complicated universe. It seems like the people who believe it to be his best love that aspect of it, but it’s a hollow film for me. Darjeeling isn’t as empty, but the story isn’t well-done – interestingly, I thought its short prequel, Hotel Chevalier, was excellent.

        Maybe I’m not being fair, but people who are good at things deserve to be held to a higher standard.

  11. LOVE Life Aquatic.

    But I love most of Anderson’s movies. I rank them thusly:

    1. The Royal Tenenbaums
    2. The Darjeeling Limited
    3. The Life Aquatic
    4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    5. Moonrise Kingdom
    6. Rushmore
    7. Bottle Rocket

    • Rush more HAS to be in your top three. It HAS to.

      • Rushmore even.

        • I disagree! It is my least favorite of the official canon (most people leave BR out.)

          As has been said below, while Royal Tenenbaums is pretty much in everyone’s top 3, the Anderson-Fan diaspora can be divided into Life Aquatic people and Rushmore people. If you love one you probably don’t love the other.

          I prefer Life Aquatic because it’s the Anderson outlier. The MOST Anderson-y of his films. Maybe a little much, but possessing a higher concentration of all the qualities I love in his films: A complete, three-dimensional, meticulously crafted jewel-box universe, absurd humor, bizarre characters, and meditation on Anderson’s usual catalog of psychological hang ups (broken families, fathers and sons, middle-aged regret, professional stagnation)

          I don’t dislike Rushmore, but I find the main character intensely hateable (as opposed to Steve Zissou, who, while also hatable, is a deeply sympathetic character, at least to me.)

    • I do think Royal Tenenbaums is, and probably always will be, his masterpiece. But, some days I think Bottle Rocket might be his best movie. It’s so funny and full of life. He was just making a movie then with real characters, not a life-sized diorama.

    • This list is wrong. Your entitlement to your own opinion has been officially REVOKED!

      • Gabe’s List:

        • 1. Fantastic Mr. Fox
          2. Rushmore
          3. The Royal Tenenbaums
          4. Bottle Rocket
          5. The Darjeeling Limited
          6. Moonrise Kingdom
          7. The Life Aquatic

          • Thank you! I was honestly very curious!

          • Can I join in on the fun?

            1. Royal Tenenbaums
            2. Life Aquatic
            3. Rushmore
            4. Bottle Rocket
            5. Fantastic Mr. Fox
            6. Moonrise Kingdom
            7. Darjeeling Limited

            I’ve seen Moonrise just once. I only say this because multiple viewings is what led me to put Life Aquatic so high and Darjeeling so low. Show of hands to see who cares… alright, zero show of hands.

          • I’ma get in on this (I haven’t seen Moonrise Kingdom yet, so I’m excluding it) (also, let it be known that I have enjoyed all of these films, so no hate here).

            1. Royal Tenenbaums
            2. Rushmore
            3. Life Aquatic
            4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
            5. Bottle Rocket
            6. Darjeeling Limited

            Of course, this list fluctuates, so these could all swap around with each other at a moments notice, other than the #1 & 2 spots. I haven’t seen Bottle Rocket in FOR-E-VER, so it might be higher upon a repeat viewing.

            LISTS! YAY!

          • Fantastic Fox high-five!

          • It’s interesting to me that you hate Life Aquatic so much, Gabe. Your reasons do make sense but it feels like you maybe hated it and didn’t give it a second view. I was a bit disappointed coming out of the theater on LAwSZ but on repeated viewing I’ve come to love it.

            Anderson’s movies, with the exception of Darjeeling (which I liked a lot) all feel like they were may by supremely competent 12 year olds. That’s part of what I love about them. I’ve heard of an interesting theory that Life Aquatic is the movie Max Fischer would have made, given the resources, for Miss Cross. Also, watch some of the old Jacques Cousteau films and Zissou is even better. I also love the cross section sets of Life Aquatic and Moonrise Kingdom.

            It is true that this is VERY Wes Andersony. But how could he make something that’s not? I’ve heard hatred for Brothers Bloom for ripping Anderson but I loved it for it’s own merits without seeing that. I for one love the obsessiveness. I guess he could let go of the Daddy Issue stuff though.

            Anyhoo, now I’ll get to my real point. Moonrise Kingdom felt closer to Fantastic Mr. Fox to me than anything W.A. has done. The caper to free Sam, Scout Master Norton saving HQ, etc. It was pretty full on whimsical if you ask me. I loved how every character took themselves SO seriously even when doing silly things. Plus, it’s really hard for me to get bent outta shape about kids free dancing to Francoise Hardy. She is awesome!

            Possibly I was primed to like it more after reading the interview in pitchfork with W.A. and Randall Poster (musical director on all the W.A. movies) about the meaning of music in his films generally and Noye’s Fludde/Hank Sr. particularly in Moonrise. Gave it a personal quality I liked. I used to listen to a Peter and The Wolf, Disney record that explained all the instrumentation and orchestra stuff so it really hit home for me. Not that that should mean anything to anyone else. But the Britten music has a real significance for Anderson, so. . .

            Again, your reasoning is sound I just didn’t react to Moonrise or Life Aquatic in the way you did.

    • Bottle Rocket is last?!

      Look, it takes a few watches. But that is what is GREAT about it! It’s so subtle in its humor and there is so much dialogue and shit going on all the time, you cant catch it all. Every time I watch it I find new things I like about it. It’s not as visually attractive or put together as the other films, and I do believe that Tenenbaums and Rushmore are the true masterpieces, but BR is excellent and shouldnt be discounted.

      • 1. Rushmore
        2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
        3. Royal Tenenbaums
        4. Hotel Chevalier (yes I know it’s a short film prequel to Darjeeling, but it’s good.)
        5. Bottle Rocket
        6. Darjeeling Limited
        7. Life Aquatic

        Moonrise Kingdom comes to my local art house on Friday. I’ll place it amongst the others then!

      • Take this with a grain of salt because I’ve only seen Fantastic Mr. Fox twice and Moonrise Kingdom once. I’ve seen the rest many, many more times:

        1. Rushmore
        2. The Royal Tenenbaums/The Life Aquatic
        3. Bottle Rocket
        4. Fantastic Mr. Fox/Moonrise Kingdom
        5. The Darjeeling Limited

        • Look, maybe it’s just because I’m the middle child in a trio of dysfunctional siblings – but I LOVED Darjeeling Limited. And I’ll own up, I love the quirk, I love the pretty scenery – I’m pretty much ok with highly stylized directors just so long as I like the style.

          I have a pretty serious love affair with Wes Anderson movies – it’s derived from basically inadvertently seeing Royal Tenenbaums as a nerdy high school senior, and feeling like, WHOA, this is really different and cool, and makes sense to me.

          And while I agree that it would be interesting to see Anderson try a different kind of story, I go to see his films specifically to enjoy the way he makes films, so I’m never disappointed by seeing a neat looking jaguar shark or a throwback luxury train.

          I can’t rank Moonrise Kingdom yet, because I’ve only seen it once and very recently at that, so it hasn’t passed the statute of limitations for Movie Ranking yet.

          So since everyone’s DYING to know:

          1. The Royal Tenenbaums
          2. The Darjeeling Limited
          3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
          4. Rushmore
          5. The Life Aquatic
          6. Bottle Rocket

  12. The critic’s agree: Moonrise Kingdom is “Hilarious and moving!”
    “Bill Murray has never been better…”
    Videogum raves, “I already said it was good, OK?”

  13. I do sometimes wonder if I would be such a big fan of Wes Anderson if I had never seen any of his movies until I was out of college. I saw Rushmore when I was 14 and it was the movie that got me into movies, so I have a pretty strong sentimental attachment to him and seeing a movie with his signature style is always very pleasant for me. But I don’t know what I would think about him just watching all of his movies as an adult.

  14. The other fans of Wes Anderson’s films I know have said they disliked this movie for basically the same reason every time – they didn’t like that he wrote his same character types as children. I actually liked that element of this film. His characters’ ennui, deadpan delivery and retro styling always reminded me of the 1960s/70s Peanuts specials. It felt like the homage, and love for his childhood was carried even further by actually setting the film in the mid-60s and having children as the heroes. Maybe that’s “too easy” or something of that nature, but I’ve been waiting for a film of his to tread even closer to that inspiration for a while. It was fun!

    Since we’re keeping track – Fantastic Mr. Fox is my No.1, without a doubt.

  15. Same. This reminds me of the “Sorkinisms” supercut that was posted today on The Daily What. Both Wes Anderson and Aaron Sorkin are popular, both have recognized styles/character quirks, and both have been successful enough to get to use these quirks repeatedly to the point where, for some, it’s becoming tiring. Personally, I’m much more tired of Sorkin than Anderson. At least Wes Anderson hasn’t yet broken his legendary silence about the status of female high-fives, as far as I know.

  16. Rushmore is one of my all time favourite movies. it came out of nowhere and knocked me silly. my problem since then is that in all his films, the viewer is always acutely aware that they are watching a movie. or more accurately, the viewer is not allowed to forget they are watching a movie. you can’t get lost in a Wes Anderson movie as his ‘vision’ will always pop up sometime in the next 5 minutes to remind you where you are. and thats the problem. its tough to get emotionally attached to something or someone when you can’t believe that its real. oh, Wes Anderson, you are so Wes Anderson.

  17. It doesn’t seem like this is really a case of an artist setting a high standard and then failing to reach it. It’s more like an artist creating a niche so instantly recognizable that it becomes almost claustrophobic. I honestly don’t know whether I thought Darjeeling Limited was any good, for instance–it was just a Wes Anderson Movie.

  18. Yeah, I genuinely can’t grasp what it is that seems to annoy so many people about Life Aquatic. Especially those who are otherwise big fans of his work but hate that movie sooo much. Like, I guess I was fairly young when I first saw it, so I didn’t have a particularly developed set of opinions about film, aesthetic, whatever. I just thought it was funny and great and Bill Murray. But then so everyone kept going on about how much it sucked, people whose opinions about things I trust and value, and I figured I must be wrong. And I went back and watched it several times with all those criticisms in mind trying to figure out what I missed the first time. But nope, still great. Basically, I think what I’m saying is where’d you come from you look pregnant.

  19. I very much liked The Life Aquatic. I didn’t like Darjeeling, really, not that I actually disliked it, it just wasn’t very interesting.

    I think this was my favorite Wes Anderson movie. It was so sweet and managed to hit me on an emotional level that not very much stuff does. I can’t even talk about it, which is weird. It was incredible, though, and I had the increasingly-rare experience of feeling my next couple days after seeing it tinged with its memory. Also that sadness-to-be-leaving-the-characters-behind that I used to have when I read, you know, The Phantom Tollbooth, but haven’t had a whole lot since.

    Anything that can hit me on that much of a childhood level without playing to the gross, petty kind of nostalgia that so much childhood-fetishization stuff does affects me strongly.

  20. I really have liked everything I’ve seen by Wes Anderson, but, give it, like, 5 more years and he’ll be the next Tim Burton. I love Tim Burton (Beetlejuice! Yay! Nightmare before Christmas! Yay! Edward Scissorhands! Yay! That Batman with Catwoman whose title I never remember! Yay!) but everything he does lately uses the same tropes, color schemes, characterization, and plot devices. Same thing will happen to Wes Anderson. Everything will just be predictable and stale, and he’ll just keep getting movies made, for some reason, and every time he does we’ll all just roll our eyes and be like “ugh, this, again?” and then go see it anyway (yes, I paid to see that godawful Alice movie), and then get upset about how it was exactly what we thought it would be, but also even worse.

    Wow, I’m really glad that I use facebook connect and when someone googles me, my opinions on WES ANDERSON and TIM BURTON will show up. Great. Perfect. What I want to be remembered for. Put this post on my tombstone, you guys.

  21. I enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom, but I very much loved Fantastic Mr. Fox, and I couldn’t help thinking that Moonrise Kingdom might have been a better movie if it had been made with puppets. I mean this in a totally unironic manner. I think most of the problems I have with the Wes Anderson Aesthetic are resolved if the movies are not intended to be about real people.

  22. i liked this movie alot and i havent disliked a single wes anderson film. but did anyone else feel like it was a little weird? like, the pacing was kinda off, there were a couple shots with not very well composited effects (the lighthouse shots, the explosion propelling ed norton over the water) and i didnt feel like most of the characters were like, at all developed. And why does Bill Murray have to get cuckolded again? I felt like Anderson tried to include too much and alot got marginalized. but again, i really enjoyed it.

  23. I’m envious that y’all can rank these films. I feel like it’s a 7-way tie for first place. They’re all so great!

  24. I’d rank Wes Anderson flicks thusly (and whoever said Wes Anderson was the next Tim Burton I’m wanting to punch, hard, in the solar plexus – Wes Anderson has been making movies for 16 years now with nary a turd. In 16 years, Tim Burton went from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure to Planet of the Paul Giamatti Oragutan and Charlie and the Johnny Depp shark is long gone Factory.)
    1. Life Aquatic (it’s the most complete universe)
    2. Royal Tenenbaums
    3. Darjeeling Limited
    4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    5. Moonrise Kingdom
    6. Bottle Rocket
    7. Rushmore. I absolutely LOATHE Schwartzman in this flick. Probably because he’s a smug secret Coppola.

    In my experience, Wes Anderson fans either LOVE Rushmore, or they LOVE The Life Aquatic.. but they all love The Royal Tenenbaums. And for the record, a 12 year old talking about boners isn’t creepy. It’s only creepy if a 12 year old either shows or uses said boner. 12 year old boys are basically always in a constant state of boner-dom.

    • I love Rushmore; I hate the Life Aquatic. So I guess I fit into your dichotomy. Rushmore is, at its heart, a humanist film and all the characters are real in some way. I find people who enjoy Life Aquatic love it for the same reasons I loathe it – it’s “quirky” and “Wes Andersony” and a “complete universe” but in the end it’s hollow and not a good film. I prefer good films to good film universes.

    • Honestly if I had to pick two they would be Rushmore and The Life Aquatic, and I’m not saying that to be contrarian. Also my film professor loathed Royal Tenenbaums, claiming that every character speaks in the same voice.

      • Rushmore is good.. and I want to like it, I just hate the main character too much. It’s my own little cross to bear I suppose. Don’t get me wrong, when I sort the 7 flicks 1-7 they’re all at least a 7/10, I just prefer Rushmore the least.

        Seems silly to claim that the Life Aquatic isn’t a good film. It boasts a bevy of fleshed-out supporting characters, some powerful emotional moments and a setting actually befitting Anderson’s fantasy scapes.

  25. My top ten Anderson movies:

    1. Mortal Kombat
    2. Logan’s Run
    3. Resident Evil
    4. Alien Vs Predator
    5. Bottle Rocket
    6. The Machinist
    7. Summer of the Monkeys
    8. AVP: Alien vs Predator
    9. Life Aquatic
    10. Magnolia

    Case closed stop arguing and just consult this list henceforth.

  26. I guess he’s just a one trick pony. He needs to try and be more like Scorsese. Scorsese doesn’t just make gangster films, he experiments with different genres from time-to-time. He needs to tone down some of the Wes Anderson-isms and mature and grow as an artist.

    • Truth be told, I am BORED TO DEATH of Scorsese’s whole “surrogate father” routine (that is sarcasm, but it let it be known that it is a CONSTANT with Scorsese, never-you-mind the genre).

    • He’s said before in interviews that he doesn’t mind being the type of film maker whose movies could all make sense sitting next to each other on a shelf. As long as they’re not phoned in or whatever, I don’t see what’s wrong with him keeping a consistent style.

      • Martin Scorsese hasn’t written all of the films he’s made tho, and the ones he has writing credits for (always with co-writers) are all about Italian-Americans and crime (Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Casino, etc). I would say Scorsese loves to direct over all other things film (which speeds up the time spent on projects), whereas Anderson always co-writes his films.

        If you look at the Scorsese’s filmography from ’67 to ’77, he made six films, a short or two, and some documentaries. The films are ‘Who’s That Knocking At My Door,’ ‘Boxcar Bertha,’ ‘Mean Streets,’ ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,’ ‘Taxi Driver,’ and ‘New York, New York.’ Of those, the only ones written by Scorsese are ‘Who’s That Knocking At My Door’ and ‘Mean Streets.’ Both of those films are about Italian-Americans living on the ‘mean streets’ of New York.

        Bottle Rocket came out in 1996. From ’96 to ’06, Anderson co-wrote and directed ‘Bottle Rocket,’ ‘Rushmore,’ ‘The Royal Tenenbaums,’ ‘The Life Aquatic,’ and just outside of that 10 year range is ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ and ‘Hotel Chevalier,’ in production in 2006 but with a release date of 2007. So that is 4 films, with another film and a short just outside of that 10 year range.

        Anderson has plenty of time to branch out into new themes. Scorsese made ‘Goodfellas’ 17 year4s after Mean Streets. If you want Anderson’s own ‘Goodfellas’ (in this ridiculously literal comparison of two directors career arcs) it’s either Moonrise Kingdom or his next film, because Anderson has been working just shy of 17 years since Bottle Rocket’s release.

        Over that 17 year stretch, Scorsese’s filmography far outweighs Anderson’s, due to Scorsese not writing all his projects and doing many shorts and documentaries along the way. But that’s why Scorsese isn’t a very fair comparison. Scorsese is a DIRECTOR above all else. Anderson is a Writer-Director above all else, so the company he should keep is that of other writer-directors in order for this compare and contrast to truly work.

        • Rian Johnson springs to mind, but he’s only been working for seven years since ‘Brick’ came out, with three films made (Brick, Brother’s Bloom, and Looper) as well as some tv work on Terriers and Breaking Bad. He’ll probably make another film by the 10 year mark, so he’s basically keeping pace with Anderson, and he also possesses the sole writing credit of his films, trumping Anderson in that regard as far as workflow is concerned.

  27. Life Aquatic is my favorite Wes Anderson movie so I may be out of place here. Limited sucked balls. Metaphors aren’t meant to be shoved in your face.

  28. Still gonna see it. I like to eat leftovers sometimes.

  29. 1. Royal Tenenbaums
    2. Rushmore
    3. Bottle Rocket
    4. Darjeeling Limited
    5. Life Aquatic
    6. Fantastic Mr. Fox

    I do hope they play Moonrise Kingdom here. Somehow I keep thinking it’s going to be like Son of Rambow, which is an awesome movie you guys.

  30. 1. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    2. Bottle Rocket
    3. Royal Tenenbaums
    4. Darjeeling Limited
    5. Moonrise Kingdom
    6. Rushmore
    7. Life Aquatic

    I am fretting way to much over this list.

  31. Speaking of “the curse of being very good” – how about that ad with Jordan Knight singing the Old Navy songs? Huh?!?! Oh, you know!

  32. Tenenbaums is my absolute favorite and the only film that had me enjoying Goop Paltrow’s character more than my other favorite roles of hers which were head in a box and that Contagion flick.
    Then comes Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Life Aquatic. L.A. made me feel as lost as most of the characters. Thank god Dafoe was there to anchor me. I can’t wait to see Moonrise Kingdom. I enjoy the Anderson charm.

  33. I like Napoleon Dynamite best, it’s really quirky.

  34. A little late here, but you’re probably right. I had only seen a couple Wes Anderson movies before I saw Moonrise Kingdom (Rushmore and The Life Aquatic), and definitely not more than once each. Maybe because of that, I thought Moonrise Kingdom was great and one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. I thought the two kids’ relationship was totally realistic and made me wistfully think of a time when I was in love and was loved back; I think it’s one of the best presentations of first love that I’ve ever seen in a movie (and I wasn’t put off by the fact that they were 12 and in their underwear, since I think that’s around the age when relationships and kissing and etc. become a thing that kids think about). I loved the hyper-intelligent and -competent children in contrast with the sad, kind of dumb, slow-moving adults, like this is Anderson’s way of saying that he believes that our children are the future. I wanted to watch it again when it ended.

  35. 1. The Royal Tenenbaums
    2. Rushmore
    3. Moonrise Kingdom
    4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    5. Darjeeling Limited
    6. Bottle Rocket
    7. Life Aquatic

  36. I realize this comment will never be seen but I just saw Moonrise Kingdom and it was such a lovely experience that I feel compelled to document that fact here. I laughed so much — and I rarely laugh out loud at movies — but I also wiped away a few tears. I was the only person in the theater who laughed at the “beige lunatics” line so I felt like a lunatic myself, but I also felt like I was part of an inside joke that no one else got. What a great investment of an hour and half.

    • Oh, I would also like to enter into the record the fact that I saw an entire row of people walk out of the movie during the beach scene and it was uncomfortable but having read this post I was prepared for that and it was far less disturbing than I had expected.

      And how great was that line when Jason Schwartzman said “Look into my eyes!” but he was wearing sunglasses?! So great.

  37. “I think we’re just gonna have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that, Ritchie.” – The Royal Tenenbaums

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