I had totally forgotten how asinine, melancholy, and whimsical – all at once – this movie is. Wes Anderson’s style could certainly be labeled as an acquired taste, and The Life Aquatic is easily his most divisive picture to date, and yet, it’s the one that probably takes the most chances and feels completely off on its own planet. Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach crafted a film that feels stoned to its core; you get a contact high while watching this bizarre, freewheeling effort, mostly because the plot zigs and zags, going in unexpected directions, with leading man Bill Murray blazing joints all throughout, and a totally stacked cast with everyone seemingly having a blast. Jeff Goldblum is so sneaky-snarky in this film, and Willem Dafoe’s manic anxiety is a real pisser. The musical score is zippy and silly with undercurrents of lament and sadness; it’s a great piece of work from Mark Mothersbaugh. Anderson’s longtime cinematographer Robert Yeoman did some of his most distinctive shooting ever in The Life Aquatic; that special hand-made aesthetic was in full effect here, and I love the use of vibrant color and the general sense of mise-en-scene that’s felt during the antic proceedings. Oh, and Claymation sea-creatures POWER. This might be the least successful of Anderson’s film from a budgetary/box-office standpoint, but in terms of creativity and overall originality, this one is way underrated and easily one of my favorite motion pictures from this dollhouse auteur.

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