The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Poster

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A real treat!
syfer13 December 2004
Although one person I was with at the pre-screen hated it, I absolutely loved it. I think it will just be one of those kinds of films (but hey, I also loved "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" which this reminded me of). Pure crazy fantastical stuff and I was completely taken with it.

It's a visually beautiful film with loads of odd little CG touches and subtle visual gags. The cutaway tour of the ship was a classic. Murray gives an amazing, energetic, yet deadpan performance and I also liked the richness of the smaller roles like "Klaus." The soundtrack was quirky and wonderful with unexpectedly hilarious Bowie covers and pounding, rocking tracks in the action scenes.

I think the gorgeous locations, sets and props nearly steal the show--kind of reminded me of "Brazil" in that way and I think it is destined to become a cult film in the same way "Brazil" has.

I can't wait to take some friends of mine and see what they think once it opens--this is one of those movies that's so different and off the wall that it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Although I realize it's getting mixed reviews, I'll stick my neck out and call it a masterpiece.

Being old enough to have grown up with Jacques Cousteau, I felt Anderson really captured the look and feel he was after with the the "movie within the movie" sequences and the yellow typographical stuff was spot-on.

If, like me, you're bored with the usual metroplex fare, this odd, unexpected movie is for you. What a blast! Wheeeeee!
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A Beautiful Modern Fantasy
brainofj7227 August 2005
"The Life Aquatic" is most certainly an unusual film. It's something of a collage of colorful imagery, fragmented shots, quirky music, strange characters, bizarre situations, and amusing montages. But if one had seen Wes Anderson's previous films, one would expect nothing less.

It can't really be helped that there be a certain amount of hype around Anderson's name, after all, his films "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" both generated vast critical acclaim and three of this young director's four films have already received the Criterion DVD treatment. Is the buzz warranted? I say, absolutely. Anderson has created some of the most vibrant, vivid, unique, and off-beat films of the last decade, and "The Life Aquatic" is no exception.

The film follows Steve Zissou (Murray), a formerly glorious oceanographer whose latest documentary, which is about his closest friend and colleague, Esteban, being eaten by a "Jaguar Shark", receives a less-than-glorious reception. Steve then announces he plans to set out on a voyage to film part two of his documentary, which will follow him and his crew as they attempt to track down the alleged "Jaguar Shark". Along for the ride is Ned (Wilson), someone who may or may not be Steve's son; Jane (Blanchett), an up-and-coming journalist doing a story on Zissou; Klaus (Dafoe), the eccentric German first mate; a Portugese, David Bowie-covering weapons expert; a no-nonsense tech expert; a usually semi-nude female crew-member; a band of unpaid interns; and several other quirky personalities. Other characters include Zissou's estranged wife, Eleanor (Huston), and her former husband, Alistair Hennessey (Goldblum). On the journey, the crew encounters money problems, relationship issues, and...pirates.

The film takes place in a vivid world that is somewhat inside Steve's head. A colorful world where the creatures are claymation and where Steve can single-handedly ward off kidnapping, gun-wielding pirates to beat of The Stooges' "Search and Destroy".

I do warn you though, if you are not a fan of dry humor, this one's most likely not for you. The movie's loaded with it, in all of its off-beat, tongue-in-cheek anti-glory.

There are some wonderful acting performances throughout, including an exuberant Bill Murray, who just loses himself in the character of Zissou, a subdued Anjelica Huston, whose subtle sly grins and deadpan delivery develop her character far more than anything else, and a spirited Willem Dafoe, who manages to make a German accent sound funnier than I ever imagined it could.

If you enjoyed "Rushmore", "The Royal Tenenbaums", "Punch-Drunk Love", or "I Heart Huckabees", then you most certainly should not let this charming, oddly beautiful little film pass beneath your radar.

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In twelve years, the baby will be eleven and a half.
film-critic12 January 2005
What a stunning body of work Wes Anderson has created. I will be honest, when I first saw the previews to this film I was worried that Anderson may have gone the way of so many other directors who have developed their name in Hollywood. Art is replaced by money, which is replaced by angry fans. I saw the CGI fish and began to feel a sweat break with nervousness. Will he be able to continue the humor from Bottle Rocket, the darkness of Rushmore, as well as the ensemble connectedness from The Royal Tennanbaums? Well, folks, I am here to announce that he has taken the Hollywood money and has not veered too far off his signature course. I always imagine Anderson's work as a very dry martini. His humor, the most intelligent work I have seen in a long time, is like the liquid itself, creating this bold texture while packing a powerful emotional punch. The olives are the cast, giving just some extra to nibble on while you enjoy the entire drink. Place these elements together, the drink and olives, and you have The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

To begin with, this film would not have worked without anyone else in the lead than Bill Murray. His ability to contain himself while also giving us the emotional stress of being a first-time dad as well as loosing his best friend is Oscar worthy. He is the perfect guide for our trip, giving us that knowledgeable laugh as well as those sympathetic eyes that seem to shout, "Everything will work out". He is bold and smooth as both the Captain of the vessel as well as learning the tricks of being a father. His ability to deliver his lines was both crucial and beautifully timed giving us just enough to make us fall in love with him by the end of the film. Coupled with his amazing performances is the work of everyone else involved. Willem Dafoe proves that he can handle any role, big or small, and make it very memorable. My favorite character during this voyage was Cate Blanchett's role that nearly stole the show from Murray. Her multi-depth character gave us just the distraction that we needed to see the power of the father/son relationship. Her quirks take us deep into the human soul and give us a mother's perspective to this mission. It is a beautiful counter to Murray's passive/aggressive father figure. Goldblum is quickly becoming a favorite actor of mine, while Huston proves that she still has the ability inside of her. Both of these guys need to see more work. The rest of the eclectic cast ranges from the hilarious "interns" to the melancholy songs of David Bowie (see if you can spot them!). Even Noah Taylor (of Vanilla Sky fame) turned out a stunning performance. The cast shines through beautifully, playing off each other, giving us some of the best performances of the year.

I will admit, Anderson's comic narrative will leave this dry taste in your mouth, but for me it was a great experience. His humor is dry, his films are dry, but that is what makes him different than others in his field. He gives us those long pauses and obscure references that will either force you to think or create frustration because you do not understand his meaning. I have grown up on his films since seeing Bottle Rocket, and I love the way this man creates. One of my favorite lines and scenes in this film that I have raved to everyone as the epitome of an Anderson film was when Zissou first takes Ned to the island and Eleanor tells Steve that one of his cats died. After some banter, Ned asks what type of cat it was. Zissou replies "Who cares. A tabby I think…" which isn't funny at first, but then you realize that all he has on the island are Siamese cats, which only make me laugh harder in my seat. That is Wes Anderson humor, and it works perfectly for me. His ability to create these challenging characters and put them in situations that I never saw coming (the "pirates" scene being one of them) was outstanding. It felt as if he was throwing his crew into different troubles daily who in turn produced some of the best work ever. Only Wes Anderson could create beauty out of chaos.

My fear of the CGI was muted immediately when I saw that Anderson used the technique to create some of the most imaginative creatures ever to lurk in the sea impressed me. He didn't use it as a central focus of the film (until the end), and used it sporadically so that it really didn't feel as if it was being used. The creatures that he created are so bold and colorful that skillfully he uses them to counter the life of Zissou, which seems be getting darker by the day. This contrast allowed me to see deeper into Murray's character and root for his misadventures throughout the entire film.

Overall, I was very impressed. I know that not many enjoyed this picture as much as his previous works, but for me it was a fresh chapter with a stellar cast. Anderson is slowly changing the face of cinema, and soon others will follow trying to recreate his award winning voice, but will not succeed. This man is in the same boat as Gondry, Coppola, Jonez, and Kaufman. These are the imaginative thinkers of Hollywood that continually break the mold and open the doors to new possibilities.

Grade: ***** out of *****
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Fun, Imaginative, Tragic, and Bowie...
Oneohtrixxx15 December 2004
I cannot express in words how many different styles of film making Wes Anderson combined into this masterpiece. At one point hilarious, sometimes even action-packed, while other times, you may feel a tear forming. Wes Anderson deserves major credit for this new addition to his excellent films.

The stop-motion animation, although underused, was extremely imaginative and is a lost art nowadays in movies that should be taken into consideration. The premise itself was great, but when you watch the film, you almost forget that the sole purpose of the film is to confront the jaguar shark, as you become connected with the characters emotionally.

Overall, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Seu Jorge (whose Portuguese interpretation of "Space Oddity" nearly drew me to tears with laughter) Cate Blanchett, and Owen Wilson, I applaud them for making such a great film better, Wes Anderson as well.

Excellent music, great acting, teary moments, and action-packed rescues make this a definite 9.5/10!
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This is a Great Movie in a Sea of Mediocrity
zaitsev_200728 January 2006
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a beautiful film. I'm ashamed to say that the first time I rented it I popped it out of the player after only a couple of minutes. I must have been in the mood for an action flick at the time. I gave the movie a second chance recently and was impressed by this film.

The actors are at the top of their form. Cate Blanchett's character is beautiful, pregnant, fiercely independent, and yet vulnerable. Murray is revealing how broad his range is once again. He shocked me with his talent in the remake of Hamlet, impressed me with Lost in Translation, and now somehow has combined the putz he often plays with an extremely complicated character that few other actors could manage.

The comedy is fantastically funny and is a fresh change from the 'Oh no, I plugged up the toilet' humor that has been so prevalent recently. It's still ludicrous at times and yet the viewer welcomes it and enjoys it.

Overall, I gave it a 9 out of 10. I highly recommend it and wait to see how Bill Murray will impress us in the future.

Billy Mintsopoulos
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My personal favorite
mattbholland14 April 2009
This is my all time favorite movie. The comedic intricacies are unmatched, combined with rich visuals and a compelling plot. I am not a fan of most Wes Anderson films, they tend to be a bit too subtle for my taste (DarJeeling Limited, Royal Tenenbaums...). However, Bill Murray hits it out of the park with his deadpan lines (I'm right on the edge. I don't know what comes next....I'm about to blow my stack). Understated performances abound which fits the film perfectly, which means the film may require a few viewings to appreciate it fully (it took me awhile to warm up to it). The soundtrack is amazing also, both the Seu Jorge (sp?) tracks and the Devo instrumentals. All in all, I feel this is Anderson's best work, and I know I am probably in the minority on this, but it's much better on many levels than his previous and subsequent films.

Ann Marie?? Do the interns get Glocks? "No, they all share one."
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meaning of this movie
jiribel21 April 2006
Of course I cannot say the meaning of this movie but I want to offer you a view you can look at this movie again and I am sure most of you will be surprised by this perspective.

Do you remember (especially you boys)when you were small? When you guys had your "gang" with leader (Steve), when you got a new boy (Ned) to your gang and some guy was very jealous on him? (Klaus) I am sure one of your rivals was decent boy from a rich family (Hennessey). Maybe you got very smart girl among you who could solve everything (Eleanor). You could fight with other gangs with guns that could shoot sparkles again and again and nobody got hurt. And when you jump over small pond (sorry huge swamp) there were plenty of leeches on you? Oh, I love that movie, now I know why I felt so sentimental when I watched that movie first time - it reminds me my childhood so so much. Our "gang" had secret plan - to get big boat somewhere, load it with food, guns and go to Cuba. We didn't have scientific dreams :-)

I am sure that in this movie Wes Anderson tries to picture his adventurous dreams when he was small. Now I understand why there is an old man asking for signature of child's sci-fi books, why there is a letter from small boy, why Cate Blanchett is saying at the end of the movie: he will be twelve in eleven and half and Steve responds: that's my favorite age. That was my favorite age, too Steve... I take this movies as a wonderful tribute to childhood (mostly boyish I guess) where great adventure was all around us.

Do not get me wrong: I did not discover this idea, I was told about it and for me it perfectly fits together and I love this movie even more!

By the way: very similar movie tricks made Czech director Karel Zeman 40 years ago in B&W. Highly recommended
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More than a comedy
vegetarianhealth26 April 2006
I went into this movie thinking it would be hilarious. I believe this is how the movie was marketed, and would explain the poor box office showing of this movie.

However, this is more a story about life than a comedy. Sure it has a comedy wrapper, but a wrapper is usually thin and inedible compared to the candy inside. This is not your typical candy, but it is fruitful in many ways. This movie is a fabric, not a two dimensional piece of characatured tissue paper as the many signs would have you believe.

This movie is for deep thinking people and those with a heart.

See it.
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Brilliant, unpretentious, charming
daniel-mkatz23 July 2005
Well exactly as my summary says, this is a very well made straight-out unpretentious movie about a fading wildlife-film director's attempt to re-create his past success that made him some sort of cult phenomenon. Reading a few of the other reviews, I think this is evidently a "hate it or love it" film, however a lot of people seem to have missed the point-I don't think this film was really intended as a comdey, to me it was more just about the relationships and interactions between the various characters and maybe even an exploration of the human spirit.

The motivation for this project is revenge on the "leopard shark" that killed his best friend/long-standing partner and there is a lot of emotion on the way, including an inspiring relationship between him and his long lost son, whom he has never met but was a huge fan of his as a boy, and the constant drama between him and his wife, who's father's money has payed for his entire career.

Wes Anderson has excellent cinematography, with some great CGI, depicting marine life in a very retro fashion, and beautiful landscapes, as well as a very well put-together soundtrack including Sigur Ros, The Stooges and Ziggy Stardust era Bowie played in Portuguese with a classical guitar accompaniment. We also see Bill Murray at his best as well as a heart-warming performance by Owen Wilson, who I am not normally a fan of. The script is also very well written and the story is so well put-together that even an attack by pirates or looting a large scientific institution seem plausible in a serious movie about an oceanographer! Overall, this is a brilliant film and there isn't a lot more I can say.
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Enjoy It For What It Is
SnaporazJr7 December 2004
This story is a lighthearted adventure comedy. I too am guilty of being one of those Wes Anderson fans who salivate over all the small details but while watching this I quickly detached myself from the director and his style and previous work and just let "The Life Aquatic" take me along. And that's what you have to do. It's different from his other stuff in that it's more plot driven. There are some wonderful characters but they have to deal more with outside complications than internal struggles. It is similar in tone and style to Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H," what with all the juggling of fighting and death (serious themes dealt with in an objective comedic manner). There's also some Fellini moments (it was mostly filmed at Cinecitta). I loved it. Don't go into this film as a biased hipster Wes Anderson fan, clean the slate and take it with an open mind. It's certainly sillier than Rushmore or Tenenbaums, but it's just as ambitious and exponentially courageous with shots and tone.

To reiterate: more action oriented, funny as all get out, and quite possibly the funnest I've had in a theater all year.
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Anderson Succeeds In Spite of Critical Hammering
MovieMannia4 January 2008
This movie got really hit hard by the critics, being immediately dubbed as a huge disappointment. This is due primarily to the fact that the joy and brilliance of any Anderson film can't be truly appreciated in one viewing. I remember seeing Bill Murray on a talk show say that he had just seen the movie for the third time and had just realized that Anderson had nailed the film.

The problem and joy of Wes Anderson movies is that they must be seen more than once to even begin to be understood, and in many cases, to be enjoyed. They typically amuse me the first time around but I rarely get them. They become increasingly funnier, however, the more times that I see them. Anderson gets a lot of his humor out of going against the conventions, avoiding the big and easy comic payoff's, and being funny by doing what one wouldn't expect to be funny. And I also begin to enjoy the films more when I start to get my brain around the themes that he's exploring. They're usually so delicately suggested that it takes a while to really understand what he is indeed saying.

Anderson totally delivers on everything one could hope from this movie. In fact, this may be one my favorite of his films. It has really grown on me. I can watch it over and over again, and it is always entertaining.

My fond feelings toward it are due primarily to the fact that this is Anderson's version of an action/adventure movie, a genre I've enjoyed since childhood. I didn't realize that this was in fact an action movie, however, until Steve Zissou takes back his ship from the pirates in an Iggy and the Stooges sound-tracked blaze of gunfire and explosions. The excitement escalates as they set sail on a mission to rescue the bond company stooge. This genre reflects the theme of the film, that life is an adventure. Consequently, it becomes a movie that is emotionally charged by child-like desires of film, while satisfying my intellectual adulthood through its unconventionality and intelligent ideas.

I can relate to this film in many ways. For me, success was easy when I was young, but as an early adult, I was dismayed by the challenges and disappointments that can easily occur. Failure became a real possibility. I no longer looked at the world with wide-eyed optimism and I lost my enjoyment in it. It wasn't until I accepted the bad with the good and kept persevering that I was able to be happy and successful again.

I think this is a universal experience, whether it happens to a child, teenager, young adult, or middle-aged adult. Disillusionment can take all of the fun out of the adventure of life. When truly thrown into the challenges of life, when success doesn't come easily, when happiness must be fought for—depression, sadness, and lethargy can result. It isn't until one accepts the good and bad of adventure that one is able to get back into the swing of life and find success again, and in essence, find adventure.

At the end of the "The Life Aquatic," Zissou accepts both the happiness and sadness of adventure, and in so doing finds a sense of satisfaction, purpose, rebirth, and success. And we as an audience are both enlightened and entertained from witnessing it.
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A Strange Film Hard To Rate On One Viewng
ccthemovieman-116 December 2006
I find this a hard movie to rate. Maybe a second viewing would make it easier. It's a odd film: one of these low-key black humor films which is a mixture of drama and comedy. What set this apart were a few other shocking scenes of violence, something not normally in this type of movie. For a comedy, albeit a tongue-in-cheek one, that violence doesn't seem to fit, but it makes the film all the more intriguing.

At times I was totally bored with this movie and at other times fascinated. I know one thing: this is a bizarre story! That automatically means it's a good vehicle for Bill Murray, who excels at wacky characters, event he low-key ones as he sometimes plays (i.e. Lost In Translation, The Royal Tenebaums, etc.). Speaker of the latter, this movie was written and directed by Wes Anderson, the same man who did "Tenenbaums." If you saw that, you have an idea of what you might get here, although I thought Royal Tenenbaums was far funnier.

At 118 minutes, this a bit long for what it offers. I'd like to have seen it 15 minutes shorter with a tighter script. But it does offer some good photography in addition to the strange story. This movie, as they say, is not for all tastes.
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Absolutely brilliant movie cleverly disguised as a mediocre movie
rzajac20 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a work of genius, though you wouldn't know by the way it rambles. It took me to get to the end of the movie to realize it.

This is essentially a remake of Fellini's 8 1/2, perhaps done as outright farce, and with a touch of farcical brutality. 8 1/2's Guido has (and resolves) his crisis in the process of making a single movie, but we meet Zissou in the midst of a slow-motion train wreck crisis spanning the prior 10-to-15 years of his career; really, a life in the midst of being completely botched. Ouch. And there are other bumps and bruises along the way, such as the bit of seemingly opportunistic shadow sparing with Ned's life and character.

It's cool: You are borne along by the barrage of postmodern yucks, and rewarded at the end by a wonderful--and wonderfully challenging--mythic payload: Are *you* ready to face your mortality, as did Zissou? Will you succeed? I think the film tries to offer a hope to those of us who may sometimes feel as lost as Zissou; he made it, and so can we. We're not hallucinating, and the Leopard Shark awaits us. Sure, it's deadly and dangerous, but it's also beautiful, and we just have to buck up and look into its maw. And the rewards of doing so are very, very real.

By the way, a clue that the filmmakers had Fellini in mind is the staircase scene at the end. I mean, it could just be a case of both films tapping the same archetype, but somehow I doubt it.

Enjoy! Your life, that is!
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I guess we all have differing tastes
jlereaux23 April 2007
After watching three-quarters of the movie and shutting if off in disgust, I was incredulous when I came here and read all the wonderful reviews of this film. So I watched it again, just in case it was merely a case of me having a bad day the first time I watched it, or perhaps the film all came together after I had quit watching it. I figured I must have missed something.

So now, after watching it all the way through, my final conclusion is that this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I kept waiting for something funny to occur but I could see every joke coming from a mile away. There was not one iota of originality. Sadly, the trailer that was shown on television before the film was released had all the funniest scenes from the movie in it, but even they weren't really weren't all that funny.

Although I am a big Bill Murray fan, this is one of his projects I will forget and try to not hold it against him.
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nothing sustains this film as it creeps along intolerably
lufetargbas1 January 2005
I had high expectations for this film -- Bill Murray is one of my favorite comedic actors; I loved Groundhog Day, What about Bob? and many other films with Bill Murray as star. The Life Aquatic is an absolutely terrible movie, not worth the price of admission or the price to rent. Not one other guest in the theater laughed -- at any point in the film. The characters all fall flat -- there are minutes upon minutes before any humor is attempted, and when it is, it always falls flat. Some terrible tragedies are portrayed as humorous, and even these scenes are not funny at all. It seems as if there is no point to this film -- nothing sustains it as it creeps along intolerably. I fought off falling asleep several times, disbelieving that a movie with this kind of cast could be this bad. An epically bad film, one of the top ten most boring, unfunny, and ridiculous films of all time -- based upon the actors involved. I am upset that I wasted two hours of my time and so felt compelled to write this review.
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Huh? 7.3 ?
Dead-Void_Heretic12 May 2005
Either I'm getting too old and out of touch with reality or most of the reviews and votes on this website are done by industry paid shills. This is certainly the worst movie I've seen in a while. Murrray's deadpan can be funny but only when he's juxtaposed with either an outrageous situation (Ground Hog Day) or with outrageous people (Ghostbusters). In this case it just doesn't work.

I know that actors have to take chances on scripts and that sometimes it pays off. This time it didn't. I feel embarrassed for Dafoe, Blanchett and the rest. Oh well. This thing is a turkey. You've been warned!
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Didn't get this movie
dvictory-130 December 2004
I do not know what was being attempted by this movie. If it is a parody, then it drastically needs humor. Bill Murray's character Zissou is an empty shell of a person who really doesn't care about anything, not even money or greed like Royal Tannenbaum. It is hard for me to see any resemblance to film maker Cousteau. Most of the characters are as one-sided as paper dolls. Owen Wilson's Ned is the only one who seems to have any blood pulsing through his veins. Basically, this movie is a vapid cartoon.

Actual aquatic life is wonderful. Why does this movie want to adorn fish with finger paints and rhinestones ? How depressing !!!
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Absolutely Brilliant
TheDoors441411 March 2006
The thing that some people forget is that Wes Anderson co-wrote the script. the Life Aquatic is quite possibly one of the most original movies i have ever seen, and, personally, i loved every aspect of it. The score was spectacular, mixing Bowies actual recordings with the Portugese covers of Sue Jorge was ingenious. In my opinion the story bares some resemblance to that of Moby Dick, in that the main character is the Capitan of a ship and is bent on finding a sea creature for, at first, revenge... but draw your own comparisons.

All in all, the movie was stellar and grabbed my attention from beginning to end, although, it is definitely one of those films that you either like or dislike, and i obviously liked it. I recommend seeing it even if your friends say that its bad, i only rented it in the first place because it was all they had at Video Connection one lonely Friday night and i needed something to watch, and all of my friends, none of whom know what their talking about, trashed it never the less i found it beautiful, hilarious, and over-all an absolutely stunning work of art by Mr. Wes Anderson... also, if you saw it and liked it, you should check out the Royal Tenenbaums, also directed by Anderson, it is almost as good as the Life Aquatic.
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I was sooooo bored............I didn't get it
jimmyhenry6 April 2007
I wanted to like the movie, I really did. I know that the guy who did the movie has done some classics, movies that I enjoyed......and Bill Murray is in it, so I figured, how could I go wrong. Well, even he couldn't save it.

Wow.....I just don't understand how this movie has received the positive reviews that I have read on this site.

I got about a 1/3rd of the way through the movie and wanted to turn it off, but I stuck with it in hopes that it was going somewhere good......maybe it just started slow.

Nope! It went nowhere. The story was lame. The characters were boring. The movie was uninteresting and unfunny. What a total waste of time!!!!
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Are you kidding? This is not funny in the least!
dennison-317 January 2005
I've never been so disappointed with a movie in my life. There wasn't anything remotely funny in this film; only what you saw in the trailer which the second time around got a smile from me. Other that that the movie was dragged out and boring, with too many pauses, poorly written dialog, and too simple of a plot, with one foreseeable direction. Bill Murray's character is as boring as the one he played in Lost in Translation. By that I mean flat, dead, and lack-luster. I loved Bill Murray in Scrooged, Ghost Busters, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, & The Man Who Knew too Much; but I wonder if his latest films are bad because he's feeling old? I hope not because I think he has a lot more energy than he's showing on the screen, so he should stop taking boring parts. I didn't care for any of the characters, and couldn't connect with any of them accept for maybe Owen Wilson and a young reporter on board. I felt the whole movie was dreary & depressing. The camera style, documentary footage made the movie even worse. I would'nt even bother to rent this one.
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Swimming Beneath and Yet Breathing
tedg2 June 2008
I'm not generally a fan of Wes Anderson. He relies too heavily on the charm of detachment. Burton has this problem too, hidden under the humorous tone. The appeal is a generational thing and I guess I'm too old to simply find that enough.

But here, he does something different than what I have seen elsewhere from him. I think it is because the Owen influence is small here. The form is a movie about making a life which is a movie. Both the movie and the movie within have fantastic elements, but we do have a clear shift to brighter colors and crisper landscapes when within the inner world.

Its all based on synthetic notions of drama: love, purpose, worth. When you sneak up on things this way, you have to play a delicate game, one I think Wes usually flubs. You have to engage by setting a distance that is far enough from the norm that we as viewers can lean into it, and near enough to what we think of as real flesh that we want to.

Bill Murray doesn't understand this balance, because he's all about distance. Never mind, he's just an actor. So you select actors that try for the closeness. Dafoe and Blanchett get this. What they choose to do is simple: they form a real person and layer some cartoonish mannerisms on top. We see through the play and value the real underneath, where we cannot with Murray and Wilson.

Because the whole thing can blend together, we get a wonderful balance of this tension: engagement and studied apartness. I credit Anderson with maintaining this container. It works. And it works because he was smart. You can see that he understands this dynamic well enough to know that we will be impatient with his tricks for very long. So the movie changes tone as it moves along. It changes slowly with less emphasis on the personal abstraction and more on abstracting the physical: the ship, the rooms, beds, sub. It allows Cate to present her womb, which is quite a miracle.

If you read the trivia at IMDb, you find that many top actresses wanted this part. So it is pretty amazing that Cate's condition as a pregnant woman who knows how to turn herself inside out was able to have that condition become so central to the world we see.

This isn't quirky. This isn't comedy. This is extremely sensitive positioning of the audience to allow for deeper penetration. Its a triangulation of "Incident at Loch Ness" and "Cowards Bend the Knee ."

I felt blessed watching it.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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A pox on all that is modern film
CmdrGuard28 December 2004
This movie was terrible. Bill Murry should be immediately tarred and feathered for staring such filth.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a ridiculous story of a fraud named Steve Zissou with ridiculous characters and ridiculous turn of events. While some may consider the lunacy of the plot to be humorous, it was really just stale.

Throughout the film, you're left wondering, nay, hoping for some humor or plot development but none substantial really forms. The characters are all superficial and their interactions seemed played and hackneyed.

Questions arise like why the hell does Ned Plimpton decide to give up his career as a pilot to find his alleged father Steve Zissou. Plimpton invests all his money into Zissou's half-ass productions with little reason other than to try and bond with dear old dad. I suppose one might consider the whole concept humorous, but it was really just plain stupid.

I suppose this movie would serve as a parody for aquatic documentaries, but only very weakly. More aptly this movie is the Blair Witch of comedies - a scam on all those who pay to see it.
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The most awful film experience of my life!
atsmith56711 January 2007
The Life Aquatic is pure pretentious trash, devoid of humor, wit, and even theme. With this film, Wes Anderson has proved himself to be one of Hollywood's most overrated filmmakers. Watching this film actually makes me question his sanity.

Wes Anderson seems to find humor in superficial, pointless things, such as red hats, sneakers, and characters' accents. Why are red hats and sneakers funny to Wes Anderson, or to people who actually claim to like this movie? I am baffled. There is no wit or cleverness involved in giving characters red hats and sneakers. It's a non-sequiter, and not even a funny one.

And why are people with accents so funny to Wes Anderson? I have an answer: he is racist. The audience is supposed to laugh at the fact that there is a German, a Brazillian and an Indian on Steve Zissou's crew, simply because these people are not Americans. These characters do and say nothing funny. A Brazillian man singing David Bowie songs is not funny. Wes Anderson is just so unfamilliar with non-Americans that it's funny to him. Everybody who wishes to pretend that this is a good film is forced to laugh along.

This film was unbearable!!!!!
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Beautiful, Smart, And Majestic
kylehodgdon20 November 2009
If I had to pick one director / writer to call my favorite Wes Anderson would probably be it. I rated two of his movies as tens and his other ones are favorites of mine as well. I really love his style and the subjects that he chooses to write about. They all seem very intelligently written to me. Of all of Anderson's films, I would probably call "The Life Aquatic" my favorite, just beating out "The Royal Tenenbaums".

I really love the character of Steve in this film. Bill Murray being cast in the role is a terrific choice. He's calm and serious acting one minute and then casing some guy with a gun the next. He's witty, yet a bit off his rocker at the same time.

The color's and animation that they used in this movie is really dazzling as well. The baby blues and yellows are a nice combination and are featured throughout the film. The sea life is obviously not supposed to look real at all and is interesting to see. The wonderful and uniqueness of it adds a majestic feel to this film. The music used in this movie enhances the beauty of it. Sigor Rós is a perfect choice for the final scene, speaking of which, is a truly amazing and beautiful ending. The David Bowie covers in Portuguese that are featured throughout the film are wonderfully done as well.

I know that Anderson's films are not for everyone, but I absolutely love them. I would suggest them to anyone.
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soniceardeath28 December 2004
Life Aquatic does offer a good and diverse cast and the imagery in which the story is told is very pleasing. The actors do a good job, but its the actualization of the story (or lack of) that makes this film a complete disappointment. The many downsides to this film are that the plot struggles with pacing problems, in that the slow parts are strangely interrupted with action that seems to come out of nowhere and vice versa. Therefore the story becomes sporadic and at times, sluggish. There are many quirks that develop within and between the characters that are never fully explained or carried out to any sort of conclusion. The story itself has many subplots that go on unexplained, ultimately losing the audience. In the end, nothing is gained or realized to the potential in which it could have been. And the usage of a Sigur Ros song towards the end of the film is extremely out of place. In conclusion, Life Aquatic is Wes Anderson being TOO Wes Anderson. His trademark humor is almost too obvious and blatant. This film had so much potential, but it was all squandered away in its pitfalls. Anderson should stick to writing with Owen Wilson, that really seemed to work. I am a big fan of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and Royal Tenenbaums, but The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou completely falls short of my expectations.
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