Wacky, Wild & Wonderful World of Wes Anderson

ASTEROID CITY, from left: Steve Carell, Aristou Meehan, Liev Schreiber, 2023.
© Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

In my very biased opinion, I find it very unlikely that any Wes Anderson film can outdo The Darjeeling Limited. However, if this were to happen, it may perhaps be with Asteroid City, a pastel dream of a film with Anderson’s most star-studded cast yet; Bryan Cranston, Tom Hanks, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton and even Edward Norton (where has he been?) as well as all the Anderson regulars such as Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, all make appearances in this 1950s-era comedy releasing June 16 about a camp of teen prodigies in the desert.

Until we can get to the theaters, let’s look over a list of previous Wes Anderson hits!

THE DARJEELING LIMITED, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, 2007.

©Fox Searchlight/courtesy Everett Collection

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody star as three kooky, depressed brothers who reunite on a train across India a year after their father’s death. It’s hilariously written and beautifully shot. You should watch it for the colors alone. It’s really a perfect movie.

THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, Ben Stiller, Jonah Meyerson, Grant Rosenmeyer, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gene Hackman, 2001.

(c) Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Starring Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Stiller, The Royal Tenenbaums is Anderson’s tale of an eccentric family of former child prodigies reluctantly gathering under one roof. A very close second to The Darjeeling Limited, this is a movie that really proves that age and mental state at the time of watching is a huge factor in what you will like. When it first came out, I was a freshman or sophomore in high school and went to see it in the theater because it looked sort of like a modern adaptation of J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, one of my favorite books at the time, which is also about a family of former child prodigies. While there were indeed many similarities between the Glass family Salinger wrote about and the eccentric Tenenbaums, the film was definitely meant for an older audience than Salinger’s novels, which were written for teens. I found it so boring I left before the ending. Anderson’s style is quirky but it’s also got enough depth that it may require some life experience to truly understand and is probably unlikely to be appreciated by morose teenagers. Five, eight years later, I watched it again and it really struck a chord. I was a Wes Anderson fan from then on. And so was the Academy! Anderson’s first of seven Oscar nominations was for this film.

MOONRISE KINGDOM, from left: Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, 2012.

©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

This is just an all-around cute film about two teenage lovebirds who run away together and cause an entire New England town to go looking for them. Moonrise Kingdom also has an all-star cast, with Edward Norton as a boy scout leader and Bill Murray and Frances McDormand playing the young girl’s parents. Plus, Bruce Willis makes an appearance. It’s no wonder Anderson was nominated for another screenwriting Oscar for this one.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, from left: Tom Wilkinson, Tony Revolori, Owen Wilson, 2014. ph: Martin Scali/TM and Copyright

©Fox Searchlight Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

While this was the first film to garner Anderson’s production team some Oscar wins on the technical side and even a nomination for Best Picture, I was never entirely sure why. As always, the cinematography was incredibly impressive, and Anderson chose a great location for filming, but I just felt the story and characters in The Grand Budapest Hotel fell flat in comparison to his earlier works. I honestly can’t really remember the plot when I think back on it.

RUSHMORE, Jason Schwartzman, Olivia Williams, 1998

(c)Buena Vista Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Rushmore (1998)

An instant cult classic, this very Salinger-esque story about a precocious teen named Max (played by Jason Schwartzman in his first-ever acting role) on academic probation at a private school where he does just about everything but actually study was Wes Anderson’s second film, cowritten with Owen Wilson and also starring Bill Murray. Though it was Anderson’s second feature film (the first was Bottle Rocket, also cowritten with Owen Wilson), Rushmore was a bigger commercial hit and really launched both Anderson and Schwartzman’s careers.

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March 2021

Chuckle at television & films funniest comic duos.

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