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Life Aquatic

The Life Aquatic

4.0 32
Director: Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett

Cast: Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett


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The first effort from director Wes Anderson since his critically beloved The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou finds the filmmaker re-teaming with a number of familiar faces, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, and Seymour Cassel. Murray plays Steve Zissou, an eccentric and renowned oceanographer who has decided to


The first effort from director Wes Anderson since his critically beloved The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou finds the filmmaker re-teaming with a number of familiar faces, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, and Seymour Cassel. Murray plays Steve Zissou, an eccentric and renowned oceanographer who has decided to seek out and enact mortal revenge on a shark that ate one of the men on his team. Along for the ride is Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), a young man who has joined Zissou's crew after showing up claiming to be the seaman's long-lost son and Zissou's co-producer (and estranged wife), Eleanor Angelica Huston. As the expedition ensues, the two bond and Plimpton falls for a female journalist (Cate Blanchett) who is writing a piece on Zissou. The crew meets a host of obstacles on their journey, including pirates, kidnapping, and bankruptcy. Adding a flair of whimsy to the film's aesthetic, the sea creatures and underwater scenes in the film have been created using stop-motion animation under the direction of Henry Selick, the man behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. The ensemble cast also includes Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, and Bud Cort.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Bill Pearis
By his third film, The Royal Tennenbaums, Wes Anderson had developed a discernable, idiosyncratic filmmaking style, full of richly-drawn oddballs, fractured families, loose storytelling, '60s rock, and a visual attention to detail that borders on obsessive-compulsive. Using much of the same cast, The Life Aquatic could almost be The Tennenbaums at Sea, though the family this time is the crew of the oceanographic ship, The Belafonte, and the patriarch is Steve Zissou (Bill Murray, in fine, melancholic form), a Cousteau-inspired captain and maker of undersea documentaries. Unfortunately, Zissou's films have become increasingly less popular, and both The Belafonte and its captain are in disrepair. To try and drum up publicity for his latest quest -- finding and killing the "jaguar shark" that ate his best friend -- he's invited a journalist (Cate Blanchett), who intends to pen a hatchet job on him. Also along for the ride is Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) who claims to be Zissou's illegitimate son, which doesn't sit well with first mate Willem Dafoe. Complicating matters is Zissou's high-tech rival, Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum), who has never forgiven him for stealing his wife (Anjelica Houston). Zissou and crew will face pirates, love triangles, kidnappings, Bud Cort, and other diversions before finding the elusive jaguar shark. The Life Aquatic is the first film Anderson has made without co-writer Owen Wilson, working instead with Kicking and Screaming writer-director Noah Baumbach, and it's also his least focused effort so far. One senses that Anderson is more interested in costume design and such background details as the wallpaper, books on shelves, and knickknacks than he is in the plot. Still, these sundry diversions make the film worth watching, from the guitar-strumming crewmember performing David Bowie songs in Portugese, to the whimsical sea creatures crafted by animator Henry Selick. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is overloaded and meandering, yet this leaky vessel never sinks, thanks to Anderson's myriad talents as a filmmaker.
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
While Wes Anderson's particular and unique visual style is abundant throughout The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, his skills as a screenwriter have abandoned him. The filmmaker Noah Baumbach collaborated with Anderson on the screenplay, marking the first time Anderson has written with anyone other than Owen Wilson. The biggest difference between this film and his others is that Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums were filled with humor derived from characters who were usually laced with melancholy. This focus on fully-rounded characters allowed the emotional highs and lows to connect with the audience. Life Aquatic offers up a protagonist whose goals are never clearly defined. Aside from a section of the film where Zissou organizes a rescue of his crew, the script never gives the character a strong enough objective. That leaves Bill Murray to fill in the gaps. His conception of the character seems to be far more interesting than the one that has been written. The director gives Murray enough room to do what he wants to with the character. (Not even The Razor's Edge allowed Murray this much empty visual and emotional space to fill up with melancholy, cynicism, and brooding.) The Life Aquatic screenplay never allows the characters to be anything more than two-dimensional figures (even when the actors are giving it their all) so the melancholy feels unearned and the quirkiness feels shoehorned into the proceedings. At best, The Life Aquatic shows that Anderson is a gifted enough image maker to keep most viewers looking at his film even if they have no emotional investment in the characters.
New York Times - A.O. Scott
Murray's quiet, downcast presence modulates the antic busyness that encircles him, and his performance is a triumph of comic minimalism.
Los Angeles Times
An exquisitely evocative movie that elevates rueful melancholia to a superpower. Carina Chocano

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Special Features

Audio Commentary by Anderson and Cowriter Noah Baumbach; This Is an Adventure, a documentary chronicling the film's production; Mondo Monda, an Italian talk show featuring an interview with Anderson and Baumbach; Interview with Composer Mark Mothersbaugh; Singer-actor Seu Jorge performing David Bowie songs in Portuguese; Intern video journal by actor Matthew Gray Gubler; Interviews with the cast and crew; Deleted scenes; Stills gallery; Trailer; Plus: A conversation between Anderson and his brother Eric Chase Anderson

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bill Murray Steve Zissou
Owen Wilson Ned Plimpton
Cate Blanchett Jane Winslett-Richardson
Anjelica Huston Eleanor Zissou
Willem Dafoe Klaus Daimler
Jeff Goldblum Alistair Hennessy
Michael Gambon Oseary Drakoulias
Bud Cort Bill Ubell
Seu Jorge Pele dos Santos
Seymour Cassel Esteban du Plantier
Noah Taylor Actor
Wallace Wolodarsky Actor
Robyn Cohen Actor
Peter Stormare Actor
Matthew Gray Gubler Intern

Technical Credits
Wes Anderson Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Renato Agostini Special Effects Supervisor
Douglas Aibel Casting
Daniel Beers Associate Producer
Milena Canonero Costumes/Costume Designer
Inti Carboni Asst. Director
Giacomo Carducci Art Director
Roberta Federico Art Director
Mark Friedberg Production Designer
Sam Hoffman Asst. Director
Barry Mendel Producer
Simona Migliotti Art Director
David Moritz Editor
Mark Mothersbaugh Score Composer
Noah Baumbach Screenwriter
Stefano M. Ortolani Art Director
Randall Poster Musical Direction/Supervision
Scott Rudin Producer
Rudd Simmons Executive Producer
Enzo Sisti Co-producer
Marco Trentini Art Director
Eugenio Ulissi Art Director
Pawel Wdowczak Sound/Sound Designer
Robert Yeoman Cinematographer

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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wes Anderson is an independent American director, noted for his droll dialogue, distinctive visual style, and obsessive attention to detail. His first film, "Bottle Rockets", launched the career of Owen Wilson. His second breakthrough feature, "Rushmore", concerned the battles between a precocious private schoolboy and a steel industrialist played by Bill Murray to win the heart of a pretty kindergarten teacher. The third film, "The Royal Tenenbaums", concerned a dysfunctional New York family - with the mischievious patriarch Royal seeking to overcome his alienation from his talented but wayward childhood. His latest picture, "The Life Acquatic with Steve Zissou", is a loving and irreverent homage to the French oceanographer, Jacques Costeau. "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" concerns the efforts of an oceanographer, Steve Zissou, to hunt down a Jaguar Shark who killed his best friend, a cinematographer. He is assisted in this quest by Team Zissou, a motley crew of misfits, artists, reprobrates, and interns from the University of Northern Alaska. On the way, Steve Zissou meets an American pilot who claims to be his lost son, a pregnant British journalist, his estranged wife, and his professional rival. There are also diversions caused by kidnapping, piracy, and the ensuing threat of bankruptcy. The plot owes much to Hermann Melville's classic Moby Dick - Zissou is a mad Captain Ahab hunting for his own version of the White Whale. There is also the happy-go-lucky spirit of the Beatles classic song, "We All Live in a Yellow Submarine". There is much too like about the film. The ensemble cast features such talents as Mr Ghostbuster Bill Murray, Angelica Huston, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, and Noah Taylor. The boat, "The Belafonte", is depicted with loving care. The ocean has an iridiscent otherworldiness, presented brilliantly with stopgap animation. The music features the work of David Bowie - sung in Portugese - and underwater electronica. The film is a quirky and droll arthouse film. There are some great moments. I particularly liked when Steve Zissou warned the interns from the University of Northern Alaska that they would receive a result of "non-complete", if they mutinied. However, the film never reaches great heights of comedy or tragedy. The director explores themes apparent in past films, such as "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums". There are familiar images of errant patriachs, prodigal children, and redemptive quests. The film lacks, though, the heart that made his previous films so loveable. "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" is like a beautiful cabinet of curiosities - full of amazing oddities, but a bit sterile.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is so fantastic, and I laugh harder everytime I see it, it has a great sense of wonder and the jokes are so small and quick you can miss them with a blink. This movie has great fun and sillyness on top with a depth of human emotion underneath that gets me more each time I watch it. For those who gave this movie bad reviews they should stick to steven seigal movies.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie was absolutely under-rated. Critics gave this marvelous movie horrible reviews, and I dont know why. Its cinematography was terrific, and the stop-motion done by Selick was a great addition. I think the critics didnt like it because it didnt live up to the standards of that of a major box-office hit. The soundtrack was dazzling, showing that Wes Anderson is a mad genius, knowing what song will fit the mood of this lachrymose movie. The Bowie songs were great... I even found myself partially dancing in my seat while the end credits rolled. And Seu George did a marvelouse job singing. As for the rating, I absolutely disagree with the MPAA. Yes, it was inapropriate for kids, but for a 13yr old audience, there would have been no problem. I saw no reason why Wes Anderson needed to have Robyn Cohen topless in 2-3 scenes. It would have brought the rating down to a PG-13. Either way, this movie is a true masterpiece. Noah Baumbach and Wes Anderson did a surpreme job writing it, and I give it a 5-star rating. Go rent on May 13 on Criterion DVD and Video. (Yes, Criterion... I belive Criterion made a smart choice choosing this picture for their top-notch DVDs)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this movie. It's a little slow at first but picks up nicely in the last half. Bill Murray fans won't be disappointed. It's a funny, albeit strange movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the film's quirky humor and Bill Murray is such a gifted comedic actor. Looking forward to their next outing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Drink a lot of expresso before you watch this one if you want to get through it awake. Course if you do, you could only hope to have to use the bathroom, at least you would get a much needed break. This movie showed great promise in the begining that sadly went no where. It was a good plot with a great cast and good cinematography but it never amounted to anything. I felt haunted by it after the movie ended. Yes it had it's good moments but we saw most on the trailers, and there just were not enough to make this movie worth the time it takes to watch.
Jason_Y More than 1 year ago
Ok, so this film got rather mixed critical reviews, and with good reason. The plot seems a bit half-hearted, possibly too contrived for even Wes Anderson. But here's why I love it: the plot that everyone harps on, doesn't matter. It seems relatively consistent to me that Anderson's movies are usually less about WHAT happens and more about HOW it goes down. Basically, if you liked The Darjeeling Limited but skipped this, I'd say go back and take a look. Bill Murray and Anjelica Houston are genius together, both have the right dry wit and deadpan delivery for Anderson's style (why did he keep them apart in The Royal Tennebaums?), and the visuals are incredible. Mise-en-scene is one of Anderson's finest qualities, and this film has it in spades. And, as one would expect, the soundtrack is kooky and fun and dead-on.
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