Bottle Rocket
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In a recent interview, Owen Wilson said that after his first movie bombed at the box office, he looked into joining the Marines, convinced that he had no future in acting. Fortunately, he reconsidered. And if you (like pretty much everyone else) missed Bottle Rocket when it first came out, you’ll want to run down to your local video store and pick up a copy. Because Bottle Rocket was just the beginning. Not only was it the film debut of brothers Owen and Luke Wilson (their older brother, Andrew, also appears), but it was also the directorial debut of cult favorite Wes Anderson. For that reason alone, it would be worth seeing, even if it weren’t hilarious in an offbeat, quirky kind of way—which it is.

Luke plays Anthony Adams, an aimless young man who’s released from a mental institution, after checking himself in for “exhaustion.” His delusional friend, Dignan (Owen), is there when Anthony gets out, ready to begin their carefully-planned life of crime. Dignan’s 75-year plan involves a small heist or two, designed to get the attention of infamous crime boss (and landscaper) Mr. Henry (James Caan). But first, they need someone to drive the getaway car—so they enlist Bob Mapplethorpe (Robert Musgrave), a bored rich kid who just happens to be the only one of them with a car.

Anthony and Bob half-heartedly follow along with Dignan, pulling off their first heist and skipping town. Their run from the law brings them to a motel in the middle of nowhere, where Anthony falls in love with Inez (Lumi Cavazos), a maid who barely speaks English. But Dignan has bigger and better things in mind—like going back to town and working with Mr. Henry and his crew to pull off the heist of their lives.

I could make all kinds of comparisons, equating this movie to, say, Reservoir Dogs, remade starring the guys from Revenge of the Nerds. But, really, I don’t need to use comparisons to explain Bottle Rocket—because it’s exactly what you’d expect from the Wilson brothers as would-be criminals. Owen, as Dignan, is gung-ho and eccentric and over-the-top. Luke, as Anthony, is laid-back and reluctant. They’re goofy and bumbling, and they bicker almost constantly. And Bob fits in perfectly as their slacker friend who’s trying to find something interesting to do with his life. Together, under the direction of Anderson, they create a buddy-crime-adventure-romantic-comedy that will keep you laughing from start to finish. If you’re a fan of Anderson and/or the Wilsons, get yourself a copy for your collection (I noticed that you can get it for a bargain-basement price at Amazon). If you’re not, check out Bottle Rocket, and you soon will be.

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