This short review is Cinema Train’s entry in the Scenes of the Crime blogathon and also the last review of Wes Anderson Month. The concluding Wes Anderson post will appear at the end of the month.
Bottle Rocket is the Thelma and Louise of Wes Anderson films. It tells its story in the most straightforward way possible, about two friends and their adventures in crime. Movies like this usually work if the audience is somehow made to sympathize with the criminals that are depicted. Most audiences related to, or at least understood, the justification of Thelma and Louise’s flight from the law; Dignan and Anthony’s will probably get mixed responses. The two twenty-somethings that Bottle Rocket follows are not the most relatable characters out there, yet there are aspects of them, especially of Anthony, that many viewers can identify with.
As much as it implements the crime and comedy genres, there is a unique flavor to Bottle Rocket. It is undeniably Anderson and obviously low-budget; because it is a modest indie effort, its scope is not as large as many crime movies. Anderson probably could not have afforded the final scene of Thelma and Louise. However, his film is not any worse off because of its smallness. I feel that this is a charming little movie largely due to the way it spends each of its few resources in original and creative ways. Even though certain characters are jerks and others are slightly difficult to understand, I had fun during this hour and thirty minutes. Its distinct style and humor, similar to that of the Coens’ Raising Arizona, is what makes it enjoyable.
The debut feature film of Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson, and Luke Wilson, Bottle Rocket is a notable movie simply because of the talent it introduced. Scorsese called it one of the best films of the ’90s. The 1990s was such a great decade for cinema that I have trouble agreeing, but within the Anderson filmography, it is an intriguing movie. I would recommend it to anyone in the mood for an offbeat indie comedy. The director hasn’t explored this kind of material since this debut and it does stand out among his own films. Bottle Rocket adds up to a solid debut and evidence that Anderson has had the assets of a great director since the very beginning of his career.