Arts & Culture » Film

Bottle Rocket

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1996

Of all of Wes Anderson's films, his "Bottle Rocket" of a debut remains his best. It's nestled firmly in my all-time Top 10 "? a positioned only cemented by Criterion's new double-disc release, which puts Sony's previous bare-bones release to absolute, unquestionable shame.

Anderson's simple tale of suburban Texas boys (brothers Owen and Luke Wilson comprise two-thirds of the trio) dreaming of lives as robbers is infinitely charming, and its dialogue sports a rhythm all its own, without being "showy" like a "Juno." Its buoyant spirit is summed up not by a line, but an action: when Luke's character is told he is loved, and he does this dance of joy across the room. It's a transcendent moment.

Criterion being Criterion, it's no surprise the film looks better than ever. Ditto that it delivers in the extras department. Heading up that second disc is a new documentary on the making of the film, allowing all the principals to discuss its miracle of genesis, its torturous previews, its death on the box-office vine, and its miracle of rebirth.

Of most interest to fans, however, will be the original, 13-minute, black-and-white short from which the movie was spawned. After years of hearing about it, it's finally available for your eyes. But keep your expectations way low; it doesn't even feel like Anderson, so it's hard to see what producers ever saw in it. No matter "?  just be glad they did.

"?Rod Lott

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