The Grand Budapest Hotel Movie Review
Seven years ago I asked, "Is Wes Anderson a two-hit wonder?" Thankfully, the answer is unequivocally "no," as the director follows up The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom with the silly comedy-thriller The Grand Budapest Hotel, another gem well worth the price of admission.
Starring Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel has all the stylistic quirkiness you've come to expect from a Wes Anderson production, and yet it may be the director's most accessible piece of work since 2001's The Royal Tenenbaums. While by no means his best movie, the movie is funny, entertaining and creative.
Without getting into the plot details - the trailers only hint at what the movie is really about - The Grand Budapest Hotel delivers a satisfying mix of romance, murder, ski chases, art thievery and more, a colorful, zany depiction of another era, with a little James Bond intrigue thrown in for good measure.
As expected, the plentiful cast prospers given the surreal, offbeat nature of the story. Though most of the big names are underutilized in what are primarily cameo roles - Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, Tom Wilkinson and Owen Wilson - they take full advantage of their limited screen time. More importantly, both Fiennes and Revolori, the main character and only real unknown among the cast, have terrific chemistry and deliver funny, heartfelt performances.
Adrien Brody and especially Willem Dafoe thrive in villain roles.
The movie features several clever adventure sequences, including a prison break montage and a ski chase, but its biggest strength is the screenplay, which brings to life the many colorful characters and circumstances that Anderson has thought up. Nonetheless, the movie loses its edge in a few brief moments in the middle. The overreliance on cameo parts comes at the expense of some of the bigger supporting characters, especially Saoirse Ronan's. And while a few bursts of gore and violence, including the killing of a pet, didn't bother me, they did seem somewhat unnecessary and might be off-putting to some audiences.
The Grand Budapest Hotel isn't Wes Anderson's best movie, nor is it his funniest, but it is still a wickedly entertaining, original and delightful piece of filmmaking. Wes Anderson lost his way a few years ago, but he is on a roll right now. Audiences should rejoice.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.