Bottle Rocket is the first film for so many recognisable names including Luke (Rock Dog, Legally Blonde), Andrew (Zoolander, Hall Pass) and Owen Wilson (Cars 3, Wonder), Kumar Pallana (The Terminal, Rushmore) and Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel), made back in 1996.
Anthony, Luke Wilson, is fresh out of voluntary mental institute and into his waiting brothers plans. Dignan, Owen Wilson, has a vast plan for he and his brother that involves being bandits.
They rope in their friend Bob, Robert Musgrave (Drillbit Taylor, Perfect Fit), as the getaway driver and set out to enact Dignan’s master plan. Dignan’s plan involves some small-scale jobs before joining up with a ‘crew’ headed by Mr. Henry, James Caan (Elf, The Godfather), who Anthony later learns runs a landscaping business.
However, problems arise when Bob’s brother is sent down and Bob takes off to help out, and Anthony falls in love with a Spanish maid, Inez, Lumi Cavazos (Exposed, Bless This Child), at the first motel they stop at.
Whilst he wants her to come away with him, she doesn’t feel the same way. As they’re leaving, Anthony gives her most of their money which causes the brothers to fall out.
Later, back at home, Caan and Dignan guilt trip Anthony into joining their gang for the big job. The major job however, goes wrong, hugely, it couldn’t have gone worse if they’d tried. Not only that, but not everything is as it seems with the ‘crew’.
As best I could I tried to put out of my mind who the three-main people involved in Bottle Rocket are, to try and watch it as it was made, with a bunch of first-timers, written by Anderson and Owen.
The main thing you’ll take away is how well it’s directed by Wes Anderson. It’s wonderfully done and sets up a lot of his shots that fans will recognise from later movies.
From the two brothers, it’s Luke who stands out more than Owen, although the latter does stand out given he looks like Vanilla Ice. But Luke gives the better performance I feel, Owen however, comes across as a nice, likeable guy.
Apparently, Owen Wilson never saw himself as an actor and, given the reception the movie received, he gave serious consideration to joining the army, believing he’d have no future in movies.
It’s fair to say the movie didn’t fair well upon release. It scored the worst test screening scores of Columbia Pictures at the time, the start had to be rewrote so that it would be accepted into Sundance and it didn’t come close to recouping the $7 million cost.
It’s not too difficult to see why either. It’s a slow and dialogue heavy film that feels meandering at times and unsure where, or what, exactly it’s trying to say.
Having said that, there is something fun about it all and it’s definitely quirky. Perhaps not as quirky as some of Andersons later films but it would appear it sets him down that road.
There are a ton of extras on the Blu-ray including The Making Of Bottle Rocket, which has interviews with most of the cast and Anderson, who seems unsure about what the appeal of the movie is himself.
You also get the original black and white short that was made by Anderson and the Wilson brothers, deleted scenes, some test shots, photos, storyboards, Shafrazi lectures and a short film by Barry Braverman, a friend and regular collaborator of Wes Anderson and the Wilson family.
Bottle Rocket is available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 4th December 2017.