The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Directed By Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach
Starring Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Angelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum
Rating: A (yep, another "A," you have a problem with that?)
Part Jacques Cousteau, part Johnny Quest, part Moby Dick, and all Wes Anderson, the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a worthy addition to the Anderson catalog of films.
Bill Murray plays Steve Zissou, a Cousteau-like undersea adventurer and filmmaker whose latest film features the death of his best friend Esteban (played by the great character actor Seymour Cassel), who is killed while shooting their latest film, by a previously undiscovered giant fish which Zissou subsequently names the "Jaguar Shark." Zissou intends to devote his next voyage to finding and killing the monster. The plot thickens a bit as Zissou meets a young man named Ned (Owen Wilson), who may be his estranged son. Zissou takes an instant liking to Ned and brings him along for the voyage.
As with every other Anderson film, the characters are horribly dysfunctional, and sometimes downright dislikable, but always in a likable way. The film does manage to stay somewhat playful while dealing with weightier themes of hero-worship, celebrity, father-son relationships, and disappointment. I don't want to say too much about it because it's the type of story that literally can go in any direction, making it impossible to figure out how it will end, and I don't want to spoil the ride for anyone. This is the type film that will get better with each repeated viewing, and those are always the best kind.