Bottle Rocket

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The movie that first introduced Wes Anderson’s lovingly detailed, slightly surreal cinematic vision to the world is a sweetly hilarious and visually witty combination of coming-of-age tale and heist thriller. In Bottle Rocket, Luke Wilson plays Anthony, a persistently optimistic slacker whose dreams of a big score don’t quite mesh with his serious lack of criminal aptitude. In spite of that, Anthony convinces his two best pals, Dignan (Owen Wilson, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Anderson) and Bob (Robert Musgrave), to help him stage a wildly complex, mildly successful robbery of a small bookstore, after which they go “on the lam.” After the big heist, the not-so-seasoned trio of misfit criminals experiences a series of odd misadventures, during which Anthony falls in love with a South American housekeeper named Inez, and a local thief named Mr. Henry (James Caan) becomes their new best friend/mentor/mob connection. A charmingly affectionate look at the folly of dreamers, shot against the beautifully radiant backdrop of the American Southwest, Bottle Rocket is the film that put Anderson and the Wilson brothers on the cinematic map. Named one of the Ten Best Films of the ‘90s by no less than Martin Scorsese. (Dir. by Wes Anderson, 1996, USA, 91 mins., Rated R) Digital