"In 10 days I'm going to set out to find the shark that ate my friend and destroy it. Anyone who wants to tag along is more than welcome."
Wes Anderson is one of those few directors whose style and quirky sense of humor is so unique that you could tell what films he's directed only by catching a few seconds of any scene from his movies. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is perhaps his most divisive film, and I can understand why considering it is heavily stylized (the set pieces in this film are gorgeous), but it isn't really as funny as most of his other films. I stand in the middle with The Life Aquatic, I don't think it's his best film, but I still enjoyed it a little more than The Darjeeling Limited. My first Wes Anderson movie continues to be my favorite, The Royal Tenenbaums, which introduced me to the rest of his work. What this film has going for it is that Bill Murray plays the lead character and has much more screen time than in the other Anderson films. He is such a terrific actor that anything he does would catch my attention. In this film Murray nails his portrayal of a tired and warn out ocean adventure documentary film maker undergoing a life crisis. Murray carries the film since the rest of the cast isn't as well developed as other characters in Anderson movies. The Life Aquatic may not be as funny as other Anderson films, but it does have the familiar quirky tone and other trademarks of his that we have come to love. It's a lovely tribute to the great Jacques Cousteau and fans will appreciate this film very much.
Written by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach (from The Squid and The Whale fame) this original screenplay focuses on a middle aged ocean adventure documentary film maker named Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) who is preparing for what could be his final expedition along with his crew to hunt down a mysterious jaguar shark who recently ate his partner. Steve introduces the different members of his crew during a screening of his latest film. Among the many crew members there's his wife, Eleanor (Anjelica Huston) who usually finances his expeditions, his assistant Klaus (Willem Dafoe), and Pele (Seu Jorge) who basically contributes to the soundtrack of this film by singing portuguese covers of David Bowie songs. Before he sets out on his final expedition, a man named Ned (Owen Wilson) shows up claiming he might be his son so Steve decides to bring him on board the Belafonte (his ship) in order to bond with him. A beautiful journalist named Jane (Cate Blanchett) also accompanies them on their mission to find the deadly shark, but some armed pirates interfere with their plans.
One of the things I enjoy the most about Wes Anderson's films is that you never know what direction the plot is going to go. He creates some quirky, colorful, and unique characters and Murray's Steve Zissou is another memorable one. The rest of the cast doesn't add much to the film with the exception of Willem Dafoe who has several funny scenes and Jeff Goldblum whom I would have liked to see more of. The Life Aquatic is one of Anderson's most stylized films, I loved the set pieces and the tracking shots of the different interior compartments in the Belafonte. It also has some familiar themes we see in most of Anderson's films. The crew in this film plays like the broken families he usually explores, and once again one of the men is seeking the approval of a parent figure. I had a fun experience with this film that does get off track at times, but it comes back at you every time. Despite being weird, it is delightful, charming, and highly entertaining.