Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited

It's funny, but before I watched "The Darjeeling Limited" I remember being confused by the reviews criticizing the movie for being a Wes Anderson movie. After all, no one criticizes a Woody Allen for being a Woody Allen movie. But after watching "The Darjeeling Limited", I get it now. The criticism isn't so much it is a Wes Anderson movie as much as it's a poor attempt at creating a Wes Anderson movie. On a superficial level, it nailed it. But there was very little there. Which is sad, because a Wes Anderson movie is a very great thing. But this was just a recreation. And it was boring and tedious and derivative and uninspiring.

Truth be told, I am a huge Wes Anderson fan. "Bottle Rocket", "Rushmore", and "The Royal Tenenbaums" are 3 of my favorite movies. "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" was good, but just didn't connect to reach its full potential. Then, there is "The Darjeeling Limited".

One of my biggest problems with "The Darjeeling Limited" is Owen Wilson's character. It appears he is playing an older Dignan from "Bottle Rocket" which on its surface would appear to be a good thing. I would argue with anyone that Dignan is one of the greatest comedic characters of all time. Yet Owen seems to just be going through the motions. And the things we loved about Dignan have been removed. He is no longer a hopeless dreamer. He has become bitter and cynical and...an asshole.

And Jason Schwartmann appears to be playing an older Max Fisher. Yet this is a Max Fisher who has also lost his optimism and childlike qualities and for all intensive purposes, become an asshole. He seems to have fixated on the scoring with chicks and not progressed beyond that.

That's the ultimate crux of "The Darjeeling Limited". The hope and joy and optimism that infected Wes Anderson's characters has been replaced with a bitterness and pessimism. The reason we loved his characters was the optimism, especially given there was no reason for it. Without that, there is a void that has not been probably filled. There is no reason for us to care about the brothers in "The Darjeeling Limited". In fact, there is no reason to believe the story could actually happen. There is no way those characters would embark on such a journey. That journey is for dreamers, the irrationally optimistic.

I'm hoping that Wes will take a step away and re-evaluate his direction. For he is immensely talented and does not get nearly enough credit for the substance of his movies. But it's clear he is struggling to figure out his next move. Here's hoping the stop motion "The Fantastic Mr Fox" reinvigorates his creativity. There will always be a place for dreamers and no one could articulate that better than Wes Anderson.


movies Wes Anderson The Darjeeling Limited Bottle Rocket Rushmore The Royal Tenenbaums The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou Dignan Owen Wilson


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