Movie Magazine International

Bottle Rocket

USA - 1996

Movie Review By Erik Petersen

"Bottle Rocket", released in 1996, is my video review of the week. Created by the same team responsible for the new film "Rushmore", "Bottle Rocket" was originally a thirteen-minute short. Hollywood heavy hitter James L. Brooks saw it and signed on as executive producer. The result is a hilarious feature length film about three aimless slackers turned would be crooks.

Directed by Wes Anderson who co-wrote the film with Owen Wilson, the movie breaks new comedic ground. From the opening scene where Anthony, played by Luke Wilson is escaping from a mental hospital with the aid of his best friend Dignan, played by his brother and co-writer Owen Wilson, we know this movie is out there.

Luke Wilson, who recently starred in the movie "Home Fries" with Drew Barrymore, is great as the sensitive and caring Anthony. Early in the film Anthony visits his precocious little sister Grace, played by Shea Fowler. Like Holden Caufield with his little sister Phoebe, Anthony strives to protect his sister yet he's scarcely able to fend for himself.

A third Wilson brother, Andrew Wilson, also stars as Futureman, the sadistic brother of wealthy screw-up Bob Maplethorpe, played by Robert Musgrave. Bob makes his plea to be included in the gang because; well he's the only one with a car. Dignan reflects on this for a moment before commending him on the sell job, he's in.

The film is funny and at times touching as we realize that Anthony will do nearly anything for his earnest but misguided best friend Dignan. Owen Wilson steals the movie with his portrayal of the terminally confident Dignan. His fifty-year plan for their life of crime is hysterical but his finest moment comes when the gang robs a local bookstore. Completely inept, they manage to terrorize no one as they bungle through the robbery wearing tape on their noses for disguise.

James Caan is great as the leader of a criminal landscaping gang, the Lawn Wranglers. His menacing style and bizarre affectations are perfect for this eccentric crime boss who ties his hair back in a ponytail and wears a kimono as he lounges at a cocktail party.

"Bottle Rocket" is hysterical and totally original. I've seen it three times and it just keeps getting better

© 1999 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 2/3/99

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