Another quirkfest from Wes Anderson (Rushmore, Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tannenbaums), this film has some of the most imaginatively charming images on screen this year, especially a tiny rainbow-striped seahorse and a cutaway side view of a ship that is as delightfully cluttered as a dollhouse conceived by Joseph Cornell. And it has Anderson's trademark oddball characters from a mix of cultures, all speaking in his trademark corkscrew speech and reacting as though no two of them speak the same language.
He's great with situations, visuals, and deadpan delivery of weird, almost absurd, dialogue. He's a little too fond of weird names: Oseary Drakoulias and Esteban du Plantier are not as witty or engaging as he would like to think. Anderson is terrific with juxtapositions -- no one else would fill a soundtrack with David Bowie songs performed bossa nova style in Portuguese. But increasingly, it all seems to be tricks without any meaning or insight behind them, cleverness for the sake of cleverness, without any heart or soul.
Or art. College students can deconstruct to their hearts' delight, but it's their own meaning they will bring to the movie, not Anderson's.
It's the story of a Jacques Coustou-like explorer named Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), who finances his expeditions by filming them. He has not had a successful movie in nine years. His wife (Anjelica Huston) strides around chain-smoking and making bitter comments. She maintains a flirty relationship with her bisexual ex-husband, istair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum), who happens to be Zissou's rival.
Zissou's new mission is not about science; it is about revenge. He wants to kill the "jaguar shark" that killed his friend. His motley crew includes the high strung Klaus Daimler (Willem Dafoe) and some newcomers: Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), a naval officer with the drawl of...