It wasn't all that long ago, that I was introduced to the quirky world of Wes Anderson by way of "The Royal Tenenbaums". The movie had the right mix of whimsy and story to insure that it would earn a spot on my at that time minuscule DVD shelf. Since then, I have watched most every offering by Wes Anderson that I could get my hands on. Almost without fail, I have found myself quite happy to have seen his films.
Originally, I had planned to see this movie much earlier in the month. Sadly, one of the hassles of not living in New York or LA means that when a film opens in a limited number of theaters, you are left unable to see it for an indefinite amount of time. I was fortunate enough to see that it was playing nearby, unfortunately it was not playing at my preferred theater, and instead I had to go to the theater after physical therapy, which means I was a little tired, and slightly medicated. This may or may not be important information to take into account my thoughts on the movie.
The movie itself, is essentially the story of a young lobby boy, and the weird improbable adventures he has with the concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel. The movie manages to work with a rather large ensemble cast, with Wes Anderson regulars showing up throughout the movie in a sort of whirlwind of star power.
The majority of the film rests firmly on the shoulders of Lord Voldemort and Tony Revolori, a relatively new face. Lord Voldemort plays the concierge, while Tony Revolori plays the Lobby Boy, complete with a hat that says Lobby Boy in case you ever forget his purpose. Their story is told as part of another story that F. Murray Abraham is telling Jude Law, which in turn is part of a story being told by Tom Wilkinson. Yeah, this is a story that contains stories within stories about stories! Wrap your head around that for a moment!
The film manages to convey the standard quirkiness of a Wes Anderson film, and if you have been fortunate enough to see The Royal Tenenbaums, or possibly Moonrise Kingdom, you have a very good idea what to expect tonally from this film. It relies heavily on off beat humor and a sort of dark comedy that gave me many a good chuckle. I can not tell how this movie plays to the general audience, because I had a private screening in a large theater (sadly, I was the only one there).
The story is interesting, and is populated by enough compelling and often-times bizarre characters that I did not lose interest at all. The movie itself screams "Wes Anderson" at every turn, from the dialog, to the color choices, to the way scenes are framed, this is very obviously a Wes Anderson film, for good or ill.
IS IT THEATER WORTHY?: I think this film would play well to a large crowd, although I can not myself speak to whether that is truly the case. However, I think it will play just as well on the small screen and none of the visuals really scream that it HAS to be seen on the big screen.
RECOMMENDATION: If you are a die-hard Wes Anderson fan, this movie will be right up your alley. If you are looking for something amusing, that is slightly off the beaten path, this might be perfect for you. If you believe that Michael Bay is a national treasure, and has made the greatest movies of all time.... Well, in that case don't see the movie, and instead check yourself in for psychiatric evaluation...
FINAL THOUGHTS: As per my expectations, this was a well made movie. It doesn't rely on heavy action, or gratuitous nudity to engage the audience, but rather relies on strong performances and an engaging story. Besides which, it has Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe, what more do you need in a movie? If that is not enough, it also has Bill Fucking Murray! Enough said.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5 out of 10
Trailer(s): Honestly, the official trailer below gives a great feel for the tone of the film. Very much worth a watch if you are on the fence.