The Life Aquatic With Steve
by Tony Medley
“There was never a horse that
couldn’t be rode;
There was never a man that
couldn’t be throwed.”
If I ever doubted that
truism, I do no more. After seeing Mike Leigh’s I’ll Sleep When I’m
Dead earlier this year, I thought I had seen the nadir of
moviemaking art. But I had not reckoned with Wes Anderson, who directed,
wrote (with Noah Baumbach) and produced (with Barry Mendel and Scott
Rudin) The Life Aquatic’.
Last year Bill Murray (Steve
Zissou) received so many huzzahs for Lost in Translation that he
was actually nominated for the Academy Award as Best Actor! All the
critics, save me, raved. All he did was look bored. I could do that.
That’s Murray’s shtick. No emotion. Look bored. Woodenly deliver lines.
People buy it. They think he’s acting. They apparently think he’s great.
I think he’s boring with no emotion and delivers his lines woodenly.
That’s what he does here. The script makes no sense whatever. Murray has
a cast of mixed quality. The main supporting actors are Kate Blanchett
(Jane Winslett-Richardson), and Owen Wilson (Ned Plimpton), but he also
has some pretty good actors in lesser roles, Anjelica Huston (Eleanor
Zissou), Willem Dafoe (Klaus Daimler), and Jeff Goldblum (Alistair
Hennessey). They are all wasted in this turkey.
I must admit that Owen Wilson
is an enigma to me. He has been in so many terrible movies that they are
now beyond counting. The only film I’ve ever liked in which he appeared
was The Big Bounce, a film that was released earlier this year,
was in the theaters for a week or two and went directly from there to
oblivion. I liked it and I liked Wilson. But for that, his movies have
been awful. While he apparently still gets casting calls, with The
Life Aquatic’ he has hit the bottom of the barrel. I like the guy,
but he needs a new agent or better judgment.
This is about a Jacques
Cousteau-type boat that goes looking for a shark that ate one of Steve’s
friends, sort of a takeoff on Moby Dick, one of history’s more boring
books that was made into one of history’s more boring films in 1956,
while Steve films the quest. Maybe, you might think, we’ll see some good
photography and beautiful fish. Think again. There is not one live fish
in this film. All the fish are computer generated.
The lines seem computer
generated, too. Just as an example, Steve is talking to Ned (both think
that Ned could be Steve’s son) and asks (woodenly), “Are you finding
what you’ve been looking for (beat, beat, beat, beat) out here with me?”
The ineptness of the delivery of the line gets, well, lost in
translation. You had to be there. Trust me when I tell you that I don’t
soon expect to hear a worse delivery of a bad line.
It’s not a movie for
children, either, because the “f” word is used copiously. If I had a
rating lower than zero, this one would get it.
December 6, 2004