Bottle Rocket Movie Review

The moment you know that Dignan's really lost it is during the trio's getaway from a not-so-daring bookstore robbery, when he excitedly states, "We're heading back to Bob's, we're gonna split up the loot, and go on the lam!"

In this hilarious first feature from writer/director Wes Anderson and screenwriter Owen Wilson, a trio of young men with questionable work ethics try in vain to become hardened criminals. Anthony (Owen's brother Luke Wilson) has just "escaped" from a voluntary mental hospital with the help of old pal Dignan (Owen), a neo-manic-depressive who's mapped out his life with felt-tip pen in a 75-year plan. Bob (Bob Musgrave) is the group's timid getaway driver whose main qualification is that he owns a car.

After a practice robbery on Anthony's Dallas house, the plans for the first big score, a strip center bookstore, are put into action. With literally hundreds of dollars, the men then find their way to a middle-of-nowhere motel, planning to return for the job that will launch them to the Big Time: robbing a cold storage center.

Filmed by Texans in Texas, Bottle Rocket is a surprisingly funny look at childish obsessions and "growing up" as a twentysomething. Wilson's dialogue is maddeningly comical and oddly realistic--we've all had a friend like Dignan who doesn't quite have all his screws in. The performances by the principal actors are dead-on, too. Throw in a supporting role by James Caan (his best since Honeymoon in Vegas) and a bizarre final heist, and you've got yourself a pretty good film.

The only time the movie is derailed is during an ill-thought-out love sequence with a motel housekeeper (Lumi Cavazos - Like Water From Chocolate). It doesn't really seem to belong in this picture, but at least it's somewhat entertaining. The picture's selection of music is a very unconventional one, too, and while it's somewhat refreshing in its difference, it can also be distracting.

Details aside, I recommend Bottle Rocket to anyone who enjoyed last year's The Brothers McMullen. And while not the unequivocal success the latter film was, Bottle Rocket is still a phenomenal ride that manages to be consistently funny, without once resorting to someone being struck in the groin.


Bottle Rocket Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: PG-13, 1996


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