The first film up for Father's Month is one of Wes Anderson's more famous films, 'The Life Aquatic'. However, it's one that has become more popular over the years, having developed more of a cult following than anything else. In the beginning, the film was kind of a flop among audiences and critics alike. But it's warm and charming sense of humor, putting Bill Murray in the driver's seat, has certainly won over the minds of many over the years.
In fact, in my search for "father/son" films to catch up on, this title was mentioned probably more times over any other, making all sorts of Top lists for the subject matter over the years since its 2004 release.
Our story sees oceanographer, Steve Zissou (Murray) working on his latest documentary feature. Disaster strikes when his partner and best friend, Esteban du Plantier (Seymour Cassel), is eaten alive by an elusive "jaguar shark". Zissou's next project is now to be a revenge documentary on finding and destroying said shark. Along the way, he receives plenty of ridicule from people about how "fake" things looked in his last feature, when his best friend was eaten alive.
Meanwhile, a young man named Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) arrives on the scene to assist with filming the latest feature. He even offers to fund it using his inheritance he has received from his now deceased mother. The catch being that Ned claims to be Steve's estranged son.
Throughout the movie, we see Zissou struggling with various aspects of his life which have suddenly been sprung on him. Being reunited with an estranged son AND wife, Eleanore (Anjelica Houston) is complicated enough, but soon there's even a rivalry between father and son fot the heart of a reporter named Jane Winslett-Richardson (Cate Blanchett). Of course, on top of that, we see his waning career in action.
A lot of it sort of plays out as a "self-pity" movie in a way, but not necessarily in a bad way, either. The film is certainly a comedy first, and Murray plays drab and disappointed so incredibly well, it can still tickle the funny bone pretty well. That said, personally speaking, I'd recommend a few other Wes Anderson films above this one. Which is not to say that it's bad, but it didn't hold my attention as well as some others.
Anderson also seems to be one of those "acquired taste" directors through the slow-moving, artsiness of his films. A lot of people find his stuff to be pretty dry at times, sort of like walking through an art gallery, trying to interpret things for yourself. This film is really no exception to that. But if you are an Anderson fan and haven't seen this one for whatever reason, it seems to be one that hits pretty big for the like-minded. Enjoyable for what it is, offers up some pretty decent laughs, and it ends on a sort of bittersweet note. All in all, a film I wouldn't highly recommend, so much as to see for yourself whether you like it or not IF you feel like it. I guess for me, like most of Anderson's films, I can appreciate it, but it can sort of come or go.