Ineptitude in the right hands often manages to be charming.
Bumbling players capture our sympathy. Such is the case in Bottle
Rocket, a small movie that
moves in a winsome arc. It opens on a slyly humorous escape from a
mental institution and ends at another institution.
about disaffected young people searching for a path through life
appear in clumps like mushrooms after a storm. They often disappear
in a few days. Bottle Rocket
breaks the mold with its singular voice. Anthony and Dignan are
buddies living in a Texas desperately trying to find out who they
are. Dignan, with a
seriously limited outlook, convinces Anthony and Bob Maplethorpe,
another buddy, to take up a life of crime. The first job is Bob’s
own home. Next is a local book shop and the threesome wind up on the
road and on the run with the limited loot in their pockets. At a
motel on the road, Luke falls for a maid and the trio finds they
have different priorities. Before
Bottle Rocket finishes exploring the relationships in its own distinctive voice, the
guys reunite and join a local crime boss at Dignan’s insistence.
Count on a bungled heist in fine comic style.
Dignan's master plan.
The players are very appealing. Luke Wilson gives Anthony that
combination of innocence and sincerity that can’t miss. Luke’s
brother Owen Wilson, who co-wrote the screenplay, gives the kind of
quirky, itchy performance that bodes well for a diverse acting
career. He’s unpredictable, and despite the elements of nastiness
is his character, Dignan provokes those secret crooked smile that
audiences can’t contain. Robert Musgrave is hopelessly inept as
Bob and James Caan adds some nice pedigree as the crime boss.
Wes Anderson who co-wrote and
directed Bottle Rocket
is a comer. His follow-up film, Rushmore,
parlayed his unusual perspective on life into another successful
film. Anderson shows a comfortable style and confidence in his own
voice. Bottle Rocket
moves at a natural pace, a sense of timing organic to the
characters. Anderson maintains a strong visual appeal with his
delicious anamorphic transfer from the Columbia Tristar team, Bottle
Rocket is a prize in the Crackerjack box. There’s a nice
balance between detail and enhancement. Feint edge ringing is
noticeable only if you strain your eyes. The colors are consistently
pleasing, from the yellow jumpsuits worn in the “big bungle,” to
the gray stone interiors of Bob Maplethorpe’s palatial home. The
Dolby Digital 2-channel matrixed sound is clean and effective