Bottle Rocket (1996)

Genres - Comedy, Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Buddy Film, Caper, Coming-of-Age, Crime Comedy  |   Release Date - Feb 21, 1996 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Bottle Rocket, the first film by Rushmore director Wes Anderson, introduced not only a bright new directing talent in the quirky mold of the Coen brothers, but also the offbeat brother acting team of Luke and Owen Wilson, the latter of whom shares the film's screenwriting credit. Luke's laconic charm and Owen's peculiar chattiness -- yin and yang attributes in siblings -- have since served them well in a slew of increasingly mainstream movies, but never have they been more sweetly on display than in this comedy of misguided would-be outlaws in small-town Texas. The naivete of Owen Wilson's Dignan, who drags his friends along for a couple of silly robbery attempts, is heartwarming in its sincerity. Rarely has wanting to rise above a humdrum life to achieve wealth and allure been so poignant and hilarious. Take special note of the gut-busting scenes with Kumar Pallana as an absurd little man who's brought aboard as a safecracker without ever really understanding what's expected of him. Anderson's weightless touch ensures that even the recent breakdown of Luke Wilson's Anthony -- which he discusses in a scene with his young stepsister that is notable for its frankness and lack of condescension -- feels like the comfortable details of an acceptably imperfect world where everything will be okay. Martin Scorsese placed Bottle Rocket on his list of the ten best films of the 1990s, which gives some indication of the respect accorded to this little-seen film.