Film Review: Bottle Rocket (1994)

Release Date: January, 1994 (Sundance)
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Owen Wilson, Wes Anderson
Cast: Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Robert Musgrave

Gracie Films, Columbia Pictures, 13 Minutes

Review:

“Man, that was a great driving. Seriously, that was a really good driving. Okay? 183 dollars, pretty god rob. Good driving.” – Dignan

This is not a review of the feature length 1996 film Bottle Rocket, this is a review of the original short film made by Wes Anderson and the Wilson brothers that would go on to give birth to the feature length version a few years later.

Shot in 1992 in black and white and only 13 minutes long, this version of Bottle Rocket debuted at Sundance in 1994. It got a good amount of buzz and provided Anderson and the Wilsons with the opportunity to shop the idea around, raise money, produce a longer version and get Columbia Pictures to distribute it. They were also able to attract the legendary James Caan to the picture, where he stars alongside the Wilsons in the final act of that film.

This early version of the Bottle Rocket story is a condensed version of what would become the first act of the larger movie. Some of the dialogue and the scenes are almost exactly the same but lacking the visual refinement of the later version. Still, the look of this film is more gritty and feels more authentic and real when compared to its bigger budget followup.

This version is superbly shot and the Wilson brothers already deliver their lines like seasoned veterans. As a fan of the 1996 Bottle Rocket, seeing this now is a real treat.

Wes Anderson showed here, that he had talent and knew what he was doing, even if his work wasn’t as fine tuned as it would become just a few years later with his breakout film Rushmore.

Where I usually leave trailers at the bottom of my reviews, I figured that I would post the short film in its entirety, as it really is worth 13 minutes of your time, if you are a fan of Anderson and the Wilsons.

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