Basically, if you like Wes Anderson movies, I’d say it’s worth a watch.
But I wasn’t totally blown away by it. There are some truly great moments, but there were also times when I felt like it was dragging a little bit, even though it’s only an hour and a half long.
The performances by the adults were my favorite aspect of the movie. Edward Norton in particular is great as the geeky Khaki Scout leader, Bruce Willis does a nice job as a sad police officer, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman have funny guest roles, while Bill Murray and Frances McDormand work well as an unhappy lawyer couple stressing over their young daughter’s behavior.
That daughter is played by newcomer Kara Hayward, and the boy she runs away from home with is another newcomer played by Jared Gilman. I have to admit, I wasn’t too impressed with either of them as far as their ability to deliver Wes Anderson’s deadpan dialogue. They seemed a little uncomfortable with it, and I found that distracting.
I did like their romance story, even if it did get a bit awkward at times. I mean, usually when people film 12-13 year old kids in their underwear, making out, they get in trouble with the law…
I still find myself wishing Anderson would stick to movies that feel a little more grounded in reality, like the two that remain my favorites – Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. His more over-the-top moments don’t always work for me, and this movie does have a few over the top moments.
Keep in mind, though, the first time I saw The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I was pretty lukewarm to negative about it, but on a subsequent viewing, I liked it a lot more. Maybe when I see this one again, my fondness for it will grow. For now, I can recommend it mainly for Norton, Willis, Swinton, Schwartzman, and some moments of truly inspired humor. Maybe after some more viewings I’ll be able to recommend it more for the overall story as well.