According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their
weekly semi-regular feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.
It’s difficult for me to understand why so many people have such animosity for Wes Anderson. Read the comments on any review of The Fantastic Mr. Fox and you’ll find half a dozen variations on the phrase, “He hasn’t done anything worthwhile since The Royal Tenenbaums.” For those of you keeping score at home, the “nothing worthwhile” in this comment refers to two movies (out of a five film career): The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited. I’ll agree, The Darjeeling Limited was a waste of everyone’s time and should promptly be forgotten. But this is only because Anderson ignored the first rule of filmmaking in the official Filmmakers Guide to Making Films: do not let Jason Schwartzman collaborate on your screenplay. Anderson can be forgiven for making this rookie mistake because from what I hear, he ripped up his Filmmakers Guide to Making Films years ago and replaced it with lollipops.
Anderson’s greatest claim to fame may be his introduction of the word “whimsical” to the handbook of movie reviewers’ derogatives. I’m not sure how he came to embody the essence of whimsy, because a surface glance at any of his films reveals a deep undercurrent of sadness. Bottle Rocket ends with one of the main characters getting sent to prison. In Rushmore, no one ends up particularly happy. Hackman dies in The Royal Tenenbaums and Luke Wilson engages in one of the gnarliest suicide attempts I’ve ever seen captured on film. In The Darjeeling Limited, everyone’s an asshole and the movie sucks. The only one that actually fits the characterization of pure whimsy to me is The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and that’s garnering Anderson some of the biggest raves of his career. So go figure.