You know what I hate with many independent films? It’s how the people who make them often lack ambition. They’re like, oh man, we don’t have much money, let’s just do a piece where people talk around a table and forget about style whatsoever. Nonsense! Some of the most inventive films I’ve seen cost next to nothing; just think of “Reservoir Dogs”, “Shallow Grave” or “Swingers”. Who says you gotta pull a “Chasing Amy” and just shoot everything with a shaky hand-held camera? Well, Wes Anderson understands this, and he turns what could have been a real small, forgettable film into a very enjoyable flick that doesn’t feel restrained at all. “Bottle Rocket” was written by Anderson and Owen Wilson, who also plays one of the leads, Dignan. He’s an underachiever in his mid-twenties who got fired from “the best job he ever had”, as a lawnmower! He’s now trying to convince his buddies to join him in the exciting life of thieves, kinda like in the little-seen but very cool Vincent Gallo vehicle “Palookaville”.
Dignan’s associates in crime are Anthony (Luke Wilson) and Bob (Robert Musgrave). Bob’s a 25 year old oversensitive man who still lives at home and still gets bullied by his brother. As for Anthony (the most well defined character), he’s a melancholy guy who never did anything in his life but still fund the time to spend some of it in a mental institution. He’s now out and he joins Dignan, probably because he’s got nothing else to do. Dignan’s a real funny guy who takes his fantasy way too seriously. He plans endlessly his ridiculous cons and behave like he’s a real pro, but you can see that he’s just seen too many movies. Like, after robbing a book store, he forces his team to leave the region and lay low, as if they would be chased across the country!
Still, that’s how they get to the motel in the middle of nowhere where Anthony meets the one, Inez, a charming housekeeper from Paraguay. This leads to an unexpected but touching side of the film, but don’t think this is a romantic comedy. Dignan still finds the time to get hired for an industrial theft by Mr Henry (the always impeccable James Caan), a third-rate gangster who also owns the lawn-mowing company Dignan was fired from. And trust me, as far as botched crimes go, this is one of the worst I’ve seen on screen! So this is pretty much “Bottle Rocket”, a small but original and refreshing comedy, well written, well directed and well acted.