"So did you enjoy your first visit to the nuthouse'"--Anthony "Hey, hey...shh, shh, shh. Come on. Be sensitive to the fact that other people are not comfortable talking about emotional disturbances. Um, you know, I am...I'm fine with that, but other people..."
- Dignan (Owen Wilson)
"You haven't worked a day in your life, how could you be exhausted'"--Grace (Shea Fowler) to Anthony
"On the run from Johnny Law, it ain't no trip to Cleveland."
"Why is there tape on your nose'"--Bob (Robert Musgrave) "Exactly!"
"It's amazing how close you can get to a girl when you're not allowed to talk to her."--Anthony
"Man, I blew it. I blew it, man."--Kumar (Kumar Pallana) "Kumar, what were you doing in the freezer'"--Anthony "I don't know, man, I lose my touch, man."--Kumar "Did you ever have a touch to lose, man'"
Rolling Stone - 02/22/1996
"...A sharply funny and touching first feature that tests the bonds of buddyhood..."
USA Today - 02/21/1996
"...[A] funny, low-budget sleeper....This movie is like a bottle rocket itself: a big bang for the money..." -- 3 out of 4 stars
Variety - 02/05/1996
"...Full of surprising warmth and charm, unexpected plot turns and droll characters that bounce off each other in refreshing ways..."
New York Times - 02/11/1996
"...Entertaining....The big-sky minimalism of the film's visual style is attractively spare....Mr. Anderson has chosen the right actors..."
Los Angeles Times - 02/21/1996
"...A confident, eccentric debut....BOTTLE ROCKET is wryly amusing from beginning to end..."
Entertainment Weekly - 12/05/2008
"Wes Anderson's comic tale of wannabe criminals still seems fresh..." -- Grade: A-
Wall Street Journal - 05/24/2012
"[I]t's a handmade, heartfelt oddity with lovely moments of deadpan sweetness."
Three criminally aspiring friends bungle their way through a series of misadventures in this oddball comedy from Austin auteur Wes Anderson. Brothers Luke and Owen Wilson play best friends Anthony and Dignan, two good-hearted though confused misfits who, along with their friend Bob (Robert Musgrave), attempt to find purpose in their lives by starting criminal careers. Though they make rather unimpressive criminals, the three guys shine in their unwavering sense of honor, friendship, and loyalty. BOTTLE ROCKET is an endearing, funny, and unique comic gem, featuring James Caan's adept turn as the local crime boss.
The debut feature film for director Wes Anderson and actors Luke and Owen Wilson, BOTTLE ROCKET is a kind-hearted yet quirky tale about three friends who fashion themselves into modern-day robbers. After leaving his voluntary confinement in a mental home, Anthony (Luke Wilson) joins his friends Dignan (the film's co-writer, Owen Wilson) and Bob (Robert Musgrave) in a bookstore heist. In need of direction, more so than money, the three guys prove to be polite, but rather inept, criminals. Nevertheless the job is a success, and the trio head out to a remote hotel, planning to lay low until they can return to join a gang of supposed professional criminals lead by the infamous Mr. Henry (James Caan).
Based on the 1994 black-and-white short, the expanded film is part buddy picture, crime caper, and slacker comedy. First-time director Wes Anderson displays a sure hand, creating carefully composed scenes full of rich detail (shot on 27mm film, to ensure greater depth of field), schematic use of color, and amusing, irreverent music (including a score by Mark Mothersbaugh, founding member of the punk band Devo). Full of sure-footed performances, BOTTLE ROCKET is a charming meditation on friendship, love, and innocence, conveyed with great humor and refreshing goodwill.
The film was shot on various locations in Dallas, Texas, including at St. Marks High School, where Owen Wilson was expelled in the tenth grade.
Wes Anderson met his writing partner and friend, Owen Wilson, when they were both students at the University of Texas. Anderson even wrote a paper for Wilson when they were roommates, as part of a deal over who would get the better room. The paper, on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," earned Wilson an A+.
While in college, Anderson asked Wilson to star in A NIGHT IN TUNISIA, a play which was a take on Sam Shepard's TRUE WEST. It was the first time Anderson and Wilson worked together.
BOTTLE ROCKET was inspired by Anderson and Wilson's experiences living in an apartment together in Austin, where they had windows that wouldn't shut, and a landlord that didn't care. To prove to the landlord the dangerousness of the situation, the two broke into their own apartment and reported it to the police. The landlord, unmoved, still did not fix the windows, saying the break-in looked like an "inside job."
BOTTLE ROCKET provided Luke Wilson's first onscreen kiss, with Lumi Cavazos, who is best known for her role in LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE.
The film also features Luke and Owen Wilson's brother, Andrew, who appears as Futureman.
The prison at the end of the movie is called Wasco State Penitentiary, after the production designer of the film, David Wasco.
James Caan's real-life teacher and master of karate, Takayuki Kubota, played Rowboat (Mr. Henry's karate instructor) in the film. The scene where Kubota is seen wearing only underwear was shot under Caan's protest, who said that it was inappropriate for a "holy man" to be shown in such a way.
BOTTLE ROCKET is named after the cheap, poorly made, and illegal fireworks that explode, but don't travel very far. As Anderson has said, "They are the kind of thing that could catch a garage on fire but a neighbor with a garden hose could put it out."
The film was based on Anderson's 13 minute short that was successfully screened at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Writer L.M. Kit Karson brought the material to the attention of producer James L. Brooks, who made the project possible.
The film was shown out of competition at the 1996 Rotterdam Film Festival.
Wes Anderson was voted the 1996 Best New Filmmaker at the MTV Movie Awards for BOTTLE ROCKET.
The film is number seven on Martin Scorsese's list of the Top Ten films of the 1990s.
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