The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Movie Review
Following the success of "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums," Wes Anderson returns with "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou." If you don't like quirky comedies, Anderson's films may not be for you, but even if you are a fan of his, "The Life Aquatic" may fall a bit short of expectations.
Bill Murray turns in a good but nothing special performance as the title character, an oceanographer who has made a career of filming cheesy documentaries about his adventures, which often amount to very little substance. He also doesn't know the name of most of the species he works with, but when his friend is killed by a mysterious new shark, he does know one thing: his next mission will be to set out and kill that shark. Though his wife (Anjelica Huston) is leaving him, a son he never knew existed (Owen Wilson) has joined his team, along with a pretty reporter (Cate Blanchett). Unfortunately, things don't go as planned as their bank manager is kidnapped by pirates - yes, pirates - and dissension grows among the ranks.
Like Anderson's other comedies, "The Life Aquatic" is very quirky and breezy. He relies on the actors to get the punch lines of his jokes across and is more concerned with the characters than the plot. This time around, Anderson has taken things one step further by creating a world with fictional creatures and goofy special effects.
Unfortunately, "The Life Aquatic" fails to miss the mark. The movie still has plenty of jokes, but the comedy is more subdued and never fully realized. The cartoonish special effects add a lot to the movie, but several of the best scenes were shown in the previews. The last act, though involving some action, is especially dull as most of the jokes have been used up. After the first hour, "The Life Aquatic" slowly begins to take on water and never is able to bail itself out.
The acting is good, but nothing spectacular. Anderson's characters aren't nearly as interesting or likable as they were in his previous efforts. Some of the cast, such as Huston and Goldblum, are never used to their full potential, and even Murray seems a bit muted. The only actor I really enjoyed was Willem Dafoe, who plays a German named Klaus.
"The Life Aquatic" is a mildly funny film, but compared to Anderson's other ventures, it definitely drags its anchor.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.