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InThe Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, director Wes Anderson takes his familiar stable of actors on a field trip to a fantasy aquarium, complete with stop-motion, candy-striped crabs and rainbow seahorses. And though Anderson does expand his horizons in terms of retro-special effects and a whimsical use of color, fans will otherwise find themselves in well-charted waters. AsThe Life Aquaticopens, Zissou (Bill Murray), a self-involved, Jacques Cousteau-like filmmaker, has just released a documentary depicting the death of his best friend Esteban, who was eaten by some sort of sea creature--possibly a jaguar shark. Zissou’s troubles also include his waning popularity with the public, and a nemesis (Jeff Goldblum) who hogs up all the grant money. Hope arrives in the form of Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), an amiable Kentuckian who may be Zissou’s son. Despite his lack of enthusiasm for fatherhood, Zissou welcomes Ned--and Ned in turn saves Zissou’s new documentary (in which he seeks revenge on the jaguar shark) in more ways than one.

One of Wes Anderson’s greatest achievements as a director to date has been launching the autumnal melancholy phase of Bill Murray’s career, starting withRushmorein 1998, and Murray delivers a similarly comedic yet low-key performance here. Unfortunately, Zissou is one of the few characters in this ensemble to achieve multi-dimensionality. Even co-star Wilson doesn’t get to develop Ned much beyond Noble Southerner, and he ends up seeming more like a prop for illustrating Zissou’s emotional development rather than his own man.The Life Aquaticprobably won’t be remembered as a great film, but it is still one that no Anderson (or Murray) fan can afford to miss.--Leah Weathersby
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CastCate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Anjelica Huston, Michael Gambon, Peter Stormare, Bud Cort, Noah Taylor, Jeff Goldblum, Owen Wilson, Robyn Cohen, Bill Murray, Seymour Cassel
DirectorWes Anderson
Genre:  Comedy
MPAA Rating:  R
Screen WriterNoah Baumbach
DVD Release Date:  May 10, 2005
Runtime:  119 minutes
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Quick Tip by . November 03, 2010
A unique story, a great cast and an interesting setting. I really enjoyed this movie. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson this is a must see. This is probably my second favorite Wes Anderson movie, behind The Royal Tenenbaums.
review by . December 17, 2008
DVD
Jacques Cousteau-type filmmaker Steve Zissou is off to film his search for the jaguar shark that killed his partner. Among the motley crew aboard are his disinterested wife, a pregnant journalist, and a man who may be his son.     Bill Murray plays the title character with an unrelenting poker-face, so dour and expressionless that I couldn't relate to him at all. I kept waiting for some of the silliness that Murray does so well, but Steve remained a one-dimensional character …
review by . May 28, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I loved this film from start to finish and it only got better the second and third times I watched it. There is a very nice feel to it: mellow, easy and cool, even when the action is on. This feel is perhaps captured best in the remarkably enjoyable Brazilian covers of classic David Bowie songs.     One thing worth noting about this film, beyond the "quirky" stylings that you expect from Wes Anderson (and that don't always come off, to my mind, as I just couldn't get in to The …
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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Criterion
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
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