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Overall Rating
3.73

Awesome37.6%
Worth A Look: 28.8%
Average: 10.4%
Pretty Bad: 15.2%
Total Crap: 8%

9 reviews, 71 user ratings


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Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The
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by Chris Wilson

"Itís like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea if Jules Vern were a comedian."
4 stars

Having trouble getting your fix of pirates, explosions, gun fights and three legged dogs? Jerry Bruckheimer fans and indie comedy geeks rejoice: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou covers all those necessary thrills! Wes Andersonís fourth film is definitely worth a look. Itís just as funny as any of his previous works and possibly a more accessible film as well.

The Life Aquatic is the story of internationally famous oceanographer and documentarian Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his quest to exact revenge on the rare jaguar shark that killed his partner while filming their last documentary. Conveniently, this new mission will also be turned into a documentary, making Zissouís colleagues and fans wonder if he hasnít simply lost his touch. Joining Zissou, for various reasons, are his potentially bastard child Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), a very pregnant journalist played by Cate Blanchett and Zissouís loyal second in command, Klaus (Willem Dafoe). Along the way, Team Zissou adopts a three legged dog, runs out of cash, commandeers equipment from a rival oceanographer (Jeff Goldblum) and faces off with some pirates who would make Johnny Depp soil himself.

This is the first film by writer / director Wes Anderson not co-written by Owen Wilson. Andersonís previous films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums) all featured offbeat humor and outrageous, likable characters. The Life Aquatic has no shortage of either. Performances are top notch all around, with Murray giving a very subdued and often hilarious performance as the self-doubting but still driven Zissou. Owen Wilson gets a chance to play a very sincere, grounded role while still creating a funny, likable character. Yes, that Hansel is so hot, but Owen Wilson can play a normal human being as well.

The Moby Dick story is the backdrop, but the bulk of the film is about Zissou creating a relationship with the man who may or may not be his estranged son. The film spends plenty of time parodying relationships and the awkwardness they create. Itís also about growing old and accepting loss and all those other warm, fuzzy existential things. Honestly though, unlike in The Royal Tenenbaums, I never felt close enough to any of the characters to care much about their pain or loss. And mostly itís just too funny to really take the serious stuffÖ well, seriously.

The biggest problem with The Life Aquatic shouldnít even be a problem. It just feels like there are too many great characters and too little for some of them to do. Anjelica Huston is wonderful as Zissouís estranged and intelligent wife but she disappears from the majority of the film. Jeff Goldblum is equally entertaining as the smarmy Alistair Hennessey and equally missing. Itís also amusing to see Willem Dafoe playing an overprotective German sailor but he doesnít seem to have much of a purpose beyond comedy relief. Of course, the rest of the crew really only serve this purpose as well. And comedy relief from Bill Murray and Owen Wilson? Why would we need such a thing?

For what it lacks in emotional resonance, The Life Aquatic definitely makes up for in pure zaniness. From claymation critters (no fancy CG for these boys) to Jacques Cousteau costuming, this is definitely a good bet for solid, quirky comedy.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11325&reviewer=400
originally posted: 04/25/05 14:43:31
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User Comments

7/25/14 Evil Robot Like Big Lebowski, trusts you to see humor without "laugh now" cues. Better film for it. 5 stars
3/05/14 Mallatrinho Esteban was EATEN. 5 stars
6/07/13 Robert Great film, misunderstood by many. Its absurd and has a lot of heart. 5 stars
3/04/13 Langano Love Wes, but this one is a swing & a miss. 2 stars
9/30/12 roscoe Bad and absolutely not funny, entertaining, or adventurous 2 stars
8/21/10 PAUL SHORTT QUIRKY, DISJOINTED COMEDY 2 stars
5/22/09 Alex greate movie plot the filming the effect the colors incredible the MUUUUUSIC 5 stars
1/05/09 YMC You'll get the jokes the 2nd time around esp after you've watched some scuba diving movies. 5 stars
12/20/08 brian DJ says "You need intelligence to appreciate it." I belong to MENSA and hated it. 1 stars
11/20/08 Mike You won't like it if you're close-minded or ignorant. Otherwise have fun. 5 stars
11/19/08 Matt C. I don't like movies with so few likeable characters. Quirky=good. Nonsympathetic=bad 3 stars
11/03/08 Shaun Wallner Hilarious Movie! 5 stars
10/01/08 Colin this movie is amazing 5 stars
8/27/08 DJ Best movie of 2004 by a mile. You need intelligence to appreciate it however. 5 stars
5/31/08 telkontar Hated the lack of humor, but was thrilled that I kept watching about 80% through. Strange. 4 stars
5/28/08 Ian I saw it a while ago and fell asleep, but I gave it another go and totally loved it 4 stars
5/25/08 ej Truly one of my top ten movies ever--a bit quirky for most tastes it seems 5 stars
5/20/08 Leanne i've decided that this is my favorite film that i've seen in my entire life. incredible. 5 stars
5/07/08 Ash one of the funniest/best movies ever 5 stars
4/19/08 Andrea its a great wes andreson film but you have to like strange movies 5 stars
3/11/08 brew HORRIBLE!! 1 stars
1/27/07 Tamara D. Leonard :::SNORE::: 1 stars
1/11/07 Jake This movie was really strangely amusing... 5 stars
11/04/06 MP Bartley Does Anderson ever really care about his characters or just their quirks? 3 stars
10/07/06 Dave Wyatt Possibly the Greatest Film ever made. Good in the same way as Jim Jarmusch 5 stars
9/28/06 steve their will never be another one like this one, truly great 5 stars
6/05/06 megan not good at all 1 stars
2/21/06 Jim Odd, but worth sticking with. 4 stars
1/18/06 Naka About 1/4 as good as it should have been. :( 3 stars
11/28/05 Will We rented this movie based on a "friend's" recommendation and now we know who not to listen 2 stars
7/12/05 Tom Benton Beautiful, funny, highly artistic, but ultimately confused. 4 stars
7/08/05 Charlie Very funny, except the ending sucked. I thought this was supposed to be a comedy! 4 stars
6/30/05 jim young This movie suckes the big one. glad I did not pay to see it. but my time is still gone. 1 stars
6/29/05 mwildema How horrible can something be? 1 stars
6/15/05 R from the makers of Obligatory Drug Use comes: Quirky Direction - you can't ALWAYS be funny. 1 stars
6/14/05 E-FUNK Genious. Anderson's films get better upon every release. I can watch this over and over. 5 stars
5/31/05 Mckrob fantastic! I want to see it again... 5 stars
5/27/05 Dan What the fuck did I just watch? 2 stars
5/19/05 Cindy Sheeks EXTREMELY quirky. You gotta like that kind of film to enjoy this one. 3 stars
5/17/05 ELI Liked it a lot better the 2nd time. Love the 3 legged doggie! 4 stars
5/13/05 mitch a tad overlong and a bit underdeveloped, expect to see sights unseen in an Anderson movie. 4 stars
4/18/05 Renita Long bill murray rocks 4 stars
4/06/05 Daniel So many little things to like. I loved it every time. 5 stars
4/02/05 Ben Richardson The best film I've seen in a long time. I would highly recomend this movie to everyone 5 stars
3/30/05 shreif elassaly 5 stars
3/25/05 malcontent rushmore is still Anderson's high watermark, but this one is quirky galore 4 stars
3/01/05 Graham I hate to be smug and say people are too dumb to see the pulsing emotion... and yet... 5 stars
2/14/05 Nathan Wilhite Probably will grow on me just like Wes Anderson's others 4 stars
1/12/05 clarance the cobra see it just for dafoe...fucking great! 4 stars
1/11/05 Abbath Engrossing setting, very quirky but always entertaining. 5 stars
1/10/05 jeff garbage. unique in a baaad way. 1 stars
1/10/05 bernard Worst movie ever. Stupid moronic meaningless 1 stars
1/09/05 pin It won't make the studio happy - Too sublime for mainstream 5 stars
1/09/05 burton miller marvelous, bizarre, unique 5 stars
1/08/05 Lucas Stenz best American film of 2004 5 stars
1/08/05 Daniel I hate Owen Wilson and still love the movie 5 stars
1/05/05 Dunce Some good moments but the story dragged. Dafoe's character and performance were brilliant. 3 stars
1/03/05 KingNeutron Once again Murray makes it look effortless; only problem was, all fish looked FAKE. 4 stars
12/31/04 Titus Holy disjointed and pointless movie Batman! Anybody know the Phantom Editor? 2 stars
12/29/04 Vince I think i like it as much as Rushmore. 5 stars
12/29/04 Landshark rich in depth and detail, teeming with curiosities 5 stars
12/29/04 harold unbelievably clever, hilarious 5 stars
12/29/04 burton miller bizarre, dramatic, unpredictable, excellent 5 stars
12/28/04 carleton so fine, clever, hilarious, great acting, touching, colorful 5 stars
12/27/04 nick2k definately not co-written by owen, but still great from beginning to end. & theres action! 5 stars
12/26/04 ajay my least favorite wes anderson movie. hopefully the next one's better. 3 stars
12/24/04 jcjs gees, could've been great...lacking something 3 stars
12/16/04 FrayLo glad i saw this for free...it was quite forgettable. 2 stars
12/15/04 raivan354 SUCKS ALL ASS, not funny, BORING as drying paint 1 stars
12/08/04 Ray Pretty cool 5 stars
12/07/04 adam it was great, great wes anderson flick with some good action fans will not be dissapointed 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Dec-2004 (R)
  DVD: 10-May-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  24-Mar-2005




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