Wes Anderson's debut feature, Bottle Rocket may have very little to do with bottles or rockets but, what it is, is a cool cult indie movie which introduced us to both Owen and Luke Wilson so that should soothe your bottle and rocket disappointment.
Based on the director's own short of the same name, Bottle Rocket is actually a heist movie with a difference. That difference is that it involves two quirky dudes mostly in the game for the hell of it. They treat robbing like it's a legitimate career and get off on the rebellious thrills when they're clearly not cut out for a life of crime. We're first introduced to Luke Wilson's character Anthony as he gets ready to leave a psychiatric hospital: he's a mild-mannered, harmless-looking guy with nothing in his life except the will to make his career as a burglar work, even if he does mostly steal from family members, and his over-keen brother Dignan (Owen Wilson). The latter takes every single thing very seriously, tackling every job like a military operation, trying desperately to get his brother's respect, getting him on his side and yet he couldn't be worse at it. Lying or missing out important information, hiring unreliable co-robbers (see Robert Musgrave's Bob) and always screwing up somehow, he may be the worst influence on Anthony and, perhaps even, the only thing keeping the latter in the game. Things get even more complicated when Anthony falls in love with a hotel chambermaid called Inez (Lumi Cavazos) and contemplates settling in a new, crime-free life with her.
After falling out temporarily with his brother, Dignan organises a final sting operation, working with James Caan's dodgy geezer and hiring the help of a bunch of useless dudes, with Anthony agreeing to help out. Unfortunately, this heist proves to be quite probably the worst heist ever attempted and everything that could possibly go wrong, does, leaving poor old Dignan to struggle with the whole fiasco. While this is a less visually stylish, somewhat more raw effort from Wes Anderson, you can still pick up a lot of the director's now trademark style in Bottle Rocket. The film kinda looks a bit like Rushmore on a really small budget more than it does The Grand Budapest Hotel. Co-written by Anderson and Owen Wilson, the film has an easy-going charm to it and feels like it would have been right at home alongside Ferris Bueller's Day Off and other classic John Hughes outings back in the 80's. Bottle Rocket is very funny, clever, boasts an Owen Wilson on rare ebullient form, giving one of his best and most stand-out performances to date, and it has heart also, staying charming and likeable throughout. Never going down darker routes, even if the ending is a tad bittersweet.
It's a shame many forget about Bottle Rocket because it really is a fun little film that's well worth seeing, especially if you're a fan of Wes Anderson's work. It may not have Bill Murray in it, but don't let that stop you from giving this cult flick a look.