‘Jack, I’m 26 years old, I didn’t run away from home…’
There are certain filmmakers who can’t help but bleed their aura all over the screen. You know when you’re watching a Tarantino movie. You know when you’re watching a Spike Lee movie. And you definitely know when Wes Anderson is behind the camera. Iconic soundtracks, brazen colour palettes and quirky characters are Anderson’s stock in trade and while Bottle Rocket isn’t peak Wes Anderson, it is still undoubtedly his.
Anthony Adams (Luke Wilson) is busted out of a mental health facility (unnecessarily, as his stay is voluntary) by his meticulous and driven friend Dignan (Owen Wilson). Along with their sometime pal Bob (Robert Musgrave), the hapless trio attempt a heist that will change their lives forever.
A lot of any potential enjoyment of Bottle Rocket depends on the viewers opinion of Owen Wilson. Lots of people inexplicably dislike him for reasons I can’t quite fathom, but this is very much his movie. It was also his breakout role, as well as being Anderson’s first movie. While it is clearly low budget and a little up and down, the blueprint is there for what would make Anderson such a compelling presence in Hollywood. Bottle Rocket is beautifully written, occasionally hilarious and features what might well be Owen Wilson’s finest performance. Luke Wilson is also breezily likable as the straight man and there is a real sense of everybody involved having a whole lot of fun which often sucks the audience in too.
While Bottle Rocket is probably a film for Anderson completists, it is also just a warm hug of a movie. Something to stick on of a Sunday afternoon before the old post dinner nap. It’s not something I would rush to watch again, but Bottle Rocket serves a purposes – it’s the entrance to the world of Wes Anderson.