“Popcorned” is a weekly entertainment blog by Casey Klekas. Rambling from movies to television, from healthy obsessions to shades-drawn, mustard on the collar Netflix binges, Popcorned is a lighthearted, heavy-minded commentary on the shows you’ve missed, the ones you should look forward to, and the ones you should never give a chance.
If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, you can think of your favorite of his films before I finish this sentence. The candidates are, in chronological order: Bottle Rocket (1996), Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), and Moonrise Kingdom (2012). Of course, it isn’t necessary to choose a favorite, although it is easier to do that than to choose the best.
If you were to ask me on Tuesday, “Hey, what’s your favorite Wes Anderson movie, cuz?” without an upward-looking moment of hesitation, I’d say, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” If you were to ask me on Wednesday, I might go with The Darjeeling Limited. But, after just finishing that film for the nth time, I feel as if one should never have a favorite Wes Anderson film because you will constantly be weighing them against each other. Instead of enjoying the long shots of ten different scenes between twenty different characters, you’ll be rating one dysfunctional family, the Tenenbaums, against another, the Whitmans or the Bishops. (Bill Murray’s first name in Moonrise Kingdom is Walt; his last name in The Darjeeling Limited is Whitman. Actually, his ten-second character is known as “the businessman,” but I always think he’s the dead father of Jack, Peter, and Francis. Be on the lookout for further tributes to Walt Whitman).
Perhaps your favorite W. A. film is Fantastic Mr. Fox. Hear me, dear Reader, ye who find this film to be your least of faves. I swear on the soles of the Zissou specials—“These are great!”—that a friend named Spike did claim that very film as his most dear. The first time I saw the film, I admit, I did not stop laughing a most unnaturally induced laugh through at least sixty-three of the eighty-seven minutes. After all, it was my birthday! But I have since reviewed it. Let’s not force it into a hierarchy. I love it. I’m just not that attached to it.
His most recent film, Moonrise Kingdom, was Anderson’s first collaboration with actor Edward Norton. (In an interview with The Guardian, Norton revealed that on the set of Fight Club, he and his co-star Brad Pitt were obsessed with Anderson’s first film Bottle Rocket so much so that they tried to slip a few homages into their own film. One success was when Pitt climbs over barbed wire to steal liposuctioned fat for homemade soap brewing. Here, he caws for Norton to follow, just like Owen Wilson does to his brother Luke during Bottle Rocket’s well-planned heists.) Anyway, this film, though charming and characteristically Wes-Andersonian, still feels like it’s missing something.
Anderson’s upcoming film is called The Grand Budapest Hotel. It includes his usual comrades—Murray, Wilson 1, and Schwartzman—but also some new faces like Jude Law and Ralph Fiennes (don’t know how to pronounce that). The story is set in the 1920s, a great start, and involves friendships, heists, and family fortunes like all good Wes Anderson films.
This brings me to explain why I brought up Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom and why they aren’t even contenders for my favorite Wes Anderson film. Of all of Wes Anderson’s films, only the last two have escaped an “R” rating by the good people at the Motion Picture Association of America (Mr. Fox is PG while Moonrise is PG-13). Again, I love both of these films dearly, but I do not connect with them like I do with his other pictures. Often what is so delightful about Anderson films is that adults, like Bill Murray in Rushmore or Gene Hackman in Tenenbaums, act like children. I wouldn’t argue that there wasn’t any of that in the last two films. I guess I just miss the drug use, sex, and even the curse words in his other films. I miss the grown-up relationships, like the near incestual one between Margot and Richie Tenenbaum. Or the bags of pain killers and muscle relaxers that fuel the Whitman boys on their spiritual journey through India. And the cigarettes! How can you have a true Wes Anderson film without cigarettes? Eli Cash on mescaline. Francis Whitman and Sweet Lime Rita in the Darjeeling’s bathroom. Steve Zissou on the unresponsive albino dolphins accompanying the Belafonte—“Son of a B!*#%, I’m sick of these dolphins.”
So, I suppose all I’m really saying is that I hope Anderson’s next film is rated R for all the glorious reasons his first five were deemed inappropriate for unaccompanied minors. Bring back the debauchery, Wes! It’s why I fell in love with you—er, your films and stuff.