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Why I Hate Wes Anderson

May 10, 2011

For the past three weeks I’ve immersed myself in the world of an auteur to conquer a personal yet difficult challenge: Watch/re-watch every Wes Anderson film to validate a common phrase I’ve uttered in many film discussions, “I hate Wes Anderson.” For some time I’ve been the black sheep in conversations with peers and friends while they have lauded the director as if he were the 2nd coming. Over the years I have attempted desperately to hop on the Wes Anderson bandwagon, watching his films multiple times yet never being able to finish them as a result of boredom and lack of interest, with exception to Rushmore and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Numerous times I’ve plopped down with a Wes Anderson DVD, sometimes sober most times not, determined to finish at least one film yet never finding enough interest to do so. That is why re-watching five of his seven films has seemed like near torture to me. Initially I had hoped that after immersing myself into Anderson’s world, the result would be an epiphanal appreciation of sorts, but instead I’ve been left with disappointment and further confusion as to why his films are held with such high regard.

“Hate” is a strong word, one that I was willing to take back for the sake of fairness when this task was conceived, however, after watching the 4th of the five films on my agenda, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, a two-hour film that took me roughly four hours to finish, “hate” is the only word that could fully convey my reaction to an Anderson film. Now let me redeem myself first by admitting that I appreciate Anderson as a director. I get why he’s considered a visionary and you can quote me as saying that he is one of the best visual directors in contemporary cinema. His directorial eye is on par with legends like Orson Welles and Dario Argento. Anderson uses the camera in his films to capture stunning images as elaborately as possible through saturated vibrant colors and perfectly angled shots. His films aesthetically drip with the quirky personality and sense of humor he attempts to showcase through his characters. In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou for instance, characters are created through Anderson’s visual representation of them; Zissou’s boat, The Belafonte, takes on a life of its own as Anderson introduces it in a long shot establishing the massive size of its structure and the numerous rooms within it. Through an impressive long-take and with heavy emphasizes on the bright colorful set design and props, Anderson uses the camera to effortlessly explore each room of the boat establishing the different personalities of the separate rooms.

By showcasing brilliant images filled with striking bold colors that are accentuated by great cinematography and perfect lighting, Anderson proves that he is a phenomenal visionary director, however, it’s his attempt as a writer that causes his films to fail nearly every time. Anderson has a knack for creating intriguing yet oddball characters, such as the precocious 15-year-old Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) in Rushmore, the missing fingered child prodigy Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow) in The Royal Tenenbaums, and the washed-up stoner oceanographer, Steve Zissou (Bill Murray). Although his characters hold a sense of intrigue due to their uniqueness and quirks, no true human qualities and complexities are shown and therein lies my major gripe with Anderson. He creates an interesting world of abnormal characters, most of which have been child prodigies, yet he does nothing to develop these people and give the audience a true sense of who and why they are.

While at times there are developments in his film’s narrative, none of his characters receive the same development and their apathetic attitudes toward life makes for uninteresting and unrealistic people to watch on screen. The Royal Tenebaums is a slightly humorous and physically beautiful presentation of a dysfunctional family, yet it’s the main Anderson film that I’ve always found myself praying for its ending half way into it. The characters are all so mellow and lethargic that they don’t demand attention or sympathy and their relationship with one another is only briefly discussed in exposition at the film’s beginning as opposed to being shown through dialogue and emotional moments between characters. By the film’s ending, it’s a bit ridiculous that a family who has been at odds for so many years manage to bond closer than ever in a matter of weeks although no confrontations, resolutions, or apologies have been made.

Anderson’s characters are just that; characters. Everyone is solemn and apathetic, they don’t react with genuine emotion, and they converse as if they take life seriously yet in situations don’t act sincerely. Most, if not all, of his characters are unlikable and express little personality for audiences to relate to. Throughout Anderson’s films, his characters have stated lines like, “I’m going to set out to find the shark that ate my best friend and destroy it,” “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow,” and “I’m gonna pop a cap in his ass;” yet none of these lines are delivered with passion. Instead they’re monotone and listless regardless of the fact that they are meant to be delivered with motivation and conviction. Anderson’s films play out as if someone created a false world where problems only exist as a means of plot devices and coincidences. A “good” film doesn’t do that, instead a good film draws you in and makes you believe the story you’re watching could or has actually happened.

I assumed all was lost in my search for a good Wes Anderson film until I got to The Darjeeling Limited, the 5th and final film. I initially thought, “dear God he finally got it right!” The Darjeeling Limited soothed my anger and made me believe that finally Anderson had perfected his niche. An exquisitely bright and colorful film, The Darjeeling Limited is a road trip movie following three very dysfunctional brothers on a train ride to India at the behest of their older brother Francis (Owen Wilson), fresh from a near death experience. Although Francis and his brothers Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and Peter (Adrian Brody) are estranged, the trio attempt to make the best of their trip and reach a transcendental point of spiritual self-discovery, however, their individual neurosis surface and they must deal with each other and their own flaws while accepting those of their family.

For once in Anderson’s career the characters of The Darjeeling Limited seemed real, situations felt natural and genuine despite the overly Technicolor world they live in. The affluent brothers desire to find tranquility in India but their upbringing prompts scenes of overly stereotypical American behavior from them. In one scene the brothers are praying in a temple but Francis notices that Peter is wearing his missing belt causing him to confront his brother about the importance of asking first. Jack immediately after realizes his passport is missing and is convinced that he was pick-pocketed until Francis reveals that he has it, causing another confrontation in the temple. Annoyed by the distractions Peter leaves to pray at another temple, a great assessment of how his character is dealing with the personal turmoil he is revealed to be experiencing. The Darjeeling Limited’s script seemed to allow for great character evolution even though the subject’s situations do not.

Anderson finally seemed to prove himself as a writer—that is until the film’s 60 minute mark. By this point in the film I began to get antsy and although it was intriguing enough to actually hold my attention and keep me entertained, the problem was that the film continued on, resulting in it losing its focus. Characters become inconsistently aloof and remaining portions of the film are simply boring and overly self-indulgent. Situations began to only arise for the sake of capturing a “cool shot,” such as the brothers doing rituals on top of a mountain. The last half of the film fails so hard that the flaws of Anderson began to chip away at any redeeming qualities the film held at its start.

Anderson’s films are merely situations that stock characters find themselves in, a device that is the result of subpar writing. His only successful film as a writer/director has been Fantastic Mr. Fox, as his style and humor translates more effortlessly and effectively in animation. Character’s are developed and make sense for once. It’s in Mr. Fox’s nature to be the way he is: a one-upper  show-off filled with arrogance and his actions showcase that, his friends reiterate it, and Mr. Fox himself admits it. All of these elements allow viewers to understand his character thus creating, at the least, empathy when he’s faced with conflict. At the end of the day Mr. Fox is what he is, a fox, and his own personal traits are what lead to the film’s conflict and resolution. However, to say that Fantastic Mr. Fox is the only successful Anderson film brings to mind the correlation that Anderson merely adapted the characters from an existing short story written by Roald Dahl.

I just simply don’t understand the importance of Wes Anderson’s films. Anderson often tells the story of an upper class white family who has no real conflict in their lives except for the ones they create. Anderson constructs characters that viewers are supposed to care for, however, they are never developed enough to encourage true empathy from the audience. Sure they have backgrounds and bad pasts but they never show sincere emotion when confronted with it. They are somber, numb, robotic, and simply characters in a film. Films aren’t watched and regarded so highly because we are watching pawns do a part, a good film and great characters draw you in and makes you believe its reality. If it weren’t for his lavish directorial skills and great ear for perfect soundtracks, I believe that Anderson’s cult following wouldn’t be nearly as large as it currently is.

Tyler Perry has been condemned by critics and his peers for his use of stock characters that are flat and predictable. He has been accused of promoting stereotypes and regurgitating the same unrelatable characters in each of his films. If Perry is to be burned at the stake then shouldn’t Wes Anderson as well? All of his characters are virtually the same, the only thing he trumps Perry over are visuals and atmosphere, however, if stuck in a room with either a Tyler Perry movie or a Wes Anderson film, I’d break both DVDs and slit my wrists to escape the slow torture I would have to endure by watching either.

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119 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2012 6:00 PM

    I totally agree with you. I depise Wes Anderson movies. What summed up his movies and his audience to me was the scene in The Royal Tennenbaums when the guy dressed as Bjorn Borg slashes his wrists. Some idiot in the audience burst out laughing as if it was some hilarious joke. Unbelievable.

  2. Derp permalink
    April 4, 2012 11:23 AM

    “I’d break both DVDs and slit my wrists to escape the slow torture I would have to endure by watching either.” Always end with a bang.

  3. The Man permalink
    April 6, 2012 5:04 AM

    You don’t HAVE TO get why most people really enjoy his movies, especially after trying so hard. AND, first of all… saying that watching ANY movie is near torture is so unbelievably offensive it makes me want to reach through and smack you. Give a little respect for what that word actually MEANS and to the people who have lived it.

    I’ve met a lot of people who don’t “Get” Wes Anderson movies, people who think his characters are unrealistic and they dwell on that fact. It’s not your fault. Lots of people haven’t seen enough of the world to be able to relate to the main characters in his films or even believe people like that could exist. Well… they do.

    You say that no true human qualities or complexities are expressed by his characters and that is your major gripe with his films. Were we watching the same thing? That statement and several others you make are gross hyperbole. His movies are full of expressiveness and countless moments of pure emotion. His stories about Love and they way he shows its relationship with the characters and how they show their feelings toward one another is extremely HUMAN. Its also very unique, which is why some humans totally miss it. Like yourself.

    You also write most of your article while speaking for audiences as a whole, and not yourself. You say “Audiences don’t like blah blah blah” as opposed to “I don’t like blah blah blah”. You shouldn’t write an opinion piece in that manner, suggesting to your reader that most audiences agree with what you are saying. The fact is: They don’t.

    You also say that his characters lack a general range of emotion, and yet, in these films they laugh, they cry, they yell, they grieve, they love, they hate…. The fact that you missed all that makes me seriously question your ability to objectively review these kinds of movies which fall into the “think piece” or “caricature” or “slice of life” style.

    I agree with you in that his movies lack character development compared to most hollywood scripts. I also agree that he likes to keep the mood somewhat light and dreary with bitter moments slapsticked together with high comedy. His movies are time capsules. They do not fall into the traditional story arc. Some people like yourself simply cannot handle this. Thats fine. These movies aren’t for you. But don’t go writing some puffed up, melodramatic, hyperbole ridden, hate piece because you cant seem to understand it. Cut out all the crap. Don’t fill what could have been a good review and a unique perspective with all that useless drivel.

    Oh, and comparing Tyler Perry to Wes Anderson is obscene. Their subject matter and styles of directing are not even in the same universe. Its completely ridiculous.

    Happy Hunting!

    • April 6, 2012 12:31 PM

      I just want to say first and foremost, thanks for reading and thanks for the comment! A critic always needs critiquing and I appreciate the words. That being said, you’re right “torture” is a sensitive word to use, however, I stated the task “seemed like near torture” to me. I had hoped that by stating it this way readers would be able to tell that I was clearly exaggerating. I too know many people who “get” his films, having conversations with them about his movies is the reason I even decided to start this task. I know that I don’t “have get his films,” but at the time I wanted to. I love cinema and nearly everyone I know adores Anderson and it’s always outraged me partly because I wasn’t on the bandwagon myself and felt I maybe I was missing something, so I set this task for myself to learn why I didn’t like him despite his acclaim in the film world.

      As stated before my initial hope was to get about two movies into his filmography and understand why everyone loved him. I get that there are just some directors and modes of storytelling that I just won’t appreciate because of my life experiences and personal taste. David Lynch is another director who may get a post written about him, but hopefully it won’t become a melodramatic puff piece, that’s the last thing I want any of my work to be. My point of this post was to explain to others why I didn’t feel a connect or share the same glee when I hear Anderson’s name. I’m sure people like his characters exist, in fact I know they do but that doesn’t mean I find his portrayal of these people interesting, relatable or humorous. I haven’t watched a Wes Anderson film since writing this post but off the top of my head I don’t remember any scenes that ever made me think “wow this actor is great” and I equate never saying that with the fact that there are very few scenes in Anderson’s film that promote passion, or in my opinion the portrayal of true human emotions, from his characters.

      I started this piece at a time when a Tyler Perry film was being released and I heard all the criticism aimed at him for have one dimensional stereotypical characters, which is the reason his films are hated so strongly among people who haven’t seen enough of the world to know his characters do exist. Because of that constant criticism, I thought to myself “hey Wes Anderson does the same thing, his movies just look better.” Therein was another reason I wanted to do this piece. Yes I think Anderson is tenfold better than Perry as a director, but to me Perry’s knack for dramatics trump Anderson’s “caricature” style any day. I only compare the two because I feel they are both “slice of life” writers that makes films for niche audiences that are hard to grasp by what’s considered the masses. I didn’t and still don’t think it’s fair to lampoon Perry when Anderson is doing virtually the same thing only prettier.

      • badblogcollection permalink
        February 10, 2015 10:16 AM

        You were far too polite to “The Man.” If anyone’s comments were overwrought here, they were his, not yours. It’s the usual crap people say about any trendy and pretentious art, that if you don’t like it and don’t think it is particularly good, you just don’t “get” it. And going off on you for using “torture” in the colloquial sense that it gets used in countless times a day (eg “that calculus class was pure torture”), trying to create some moral upper hand to be able to wag his finger at you self-importantly, that’s when his argument lost all right to respect. I “get” what Wes Anderson does, and I loved and still love Bottle Rocket and Rushmore because of it. Then Royal Tennenbaums, I decided I liked that, but never felt the need to watch it again. Aquatic Life just lost me. I tried to watch Moonrise Kingdom and just had to stop. Fared better with Grand Budapest. I *want* to like Wes Anderson’s films, if anything because of nostalgia for the understated greatness of his first two, but I just can’t, for all the reasons you say. His brand of deadpan absurdism worked in the first two, but/and so he kept pushing it until it became his gimmick, and it stopped being unique, it was just tired and forced. In that way it’s like M Knight Shamalyan’s “surprise twist” that worked so well in Sixth Sense but quickly became hackneyed unintentional self-parody. A more apt comparison might be to Wilt Stilman, like Anderson Stilman’s characters choose their words so preciously, and deliver them so listlessly, and it was great in Metropolitan and Barcelona, but had worn itself thin by Last Days of Disco, which is why no one waits excitedly for the next Wilt Stilman movie anymore. What worked with a bunch of spoiled kids in Metropolitan, a self-important high school underachiever in Rushmore, and three early twenties guys in Bottle Rocket, it worked because we have all been teenagers and young adults who really did think that every single experience we were going through was the most important one we ever had, and we thought everything we had to say was groundbreaking and important enough that it’s import would come through no matter how we said it, but then we grew up. “The Man” suggested that maybe you and the rest of us who don’t find Anderson’s characters believable haven’t had enough life experience, but I think the reverse is true; only people who haven’t moved beyond that adolescent stage of self-importance find anderson’s characters believable. As Anderson’s stable of actors age, the preciousness that was believable when they were delivering it in their teens and 20s sounds wooden and forced now that they are in their 30s and 40s. There has to be a happy medium between the stilted dialogue of Anderson’s characters and the dreadful mumblecore that is so in vogue right now. Actually, I know there is a happy medium, because many writers and directors successfully find it every day and produce great, real films.

      • February 10, 2015 7:45 PM

        Thank you so much for the poignant response! My initial politeness to the Man was mostly due to feeling like I’d be a buoy in a sea of Wes lovers on the internet. I was sure that multiple comments would just be people insulting me because I didn’t “get it” so I wanted to make sure I clarified my argument in the most polite, concise way possible at the time. I never imagined this many people would have the same disdain for his shtick, it’s awesome! I really like the point you make about why Max and the Bottle Rocket guys “work” due to their age. I’ve never really assessed how that plays a part in why his characters feel so forced and thin to me, but that’s definitely a valid reason.

      • Apathetic permalink
        March 11, 2015 8:38 PM

        badblogcollection That was a beautiful response. Thanks.

    • Dude permalink
      June 9, 2015 10:44 PM

      Wow, “just because you haven’t been enough places or seen enough of the world” sounds like someone who toooootally get’s it man….

      I know, let’s have a passport stamp contest. Nah, better just stick to your clove cigarettes. A blogger just wrecked your pretentious hipster world, and you can’t take it… it’s cool. Ride My Dark Emperor gets you. And I own all of Andersons movies, because they are a visual feast. I just don’t pretend they are anything more.

    • Fo'Drizzle permalink
      August 5, 2015 12:49 PM

      Hey, The Man; you’re a stupid asshole.

  4. Pureoriginal permalink
    May 20, 2012 5:16 PM

    I am not a particular fan of Anderson and dislike his movies primarily because I find them to be dull although I do think Rushmore was reasonably entertaining. I could write a longer thought piece on the merits of each picture but feel that perhaps for me “dull” best sums things up. Slow pacing, lack of characterization, comedy moments that lack any real humour (dark or otherwise) all contribute. I could go on. I mostly felt the need to post to disagree with The Man and his suggestion that some people simply “don’t get” Anderson or that some people are incapable of handling Anderson’s “time capsule” style. I have always been deeply infuriated by the suggestion that those who dislike a movie genre, director, piece of art (modern or otherwise) etc are somehow incapable of “getting” it. The inference of course is that they therefore lack the intellectual capacity to understand and appreciate whatever it might be. Of course it is never stated so directly but just hidden under the auspices of “get”. For me the idea of “get” smacks a bit of the emperor’s new clothes. The last bastion of the critically acclaimed and popularly ignored. I have no problem with those who love or loathe Anderson movies or people presenting their argument but I do wish the fan boys and girls would avoid defending him or anyone else with “get”. Make a better argument as to the merits of his output if you wish and maybe you will help bring about a wider epiphany that the original author was seeking. I am sure most movie aficionados “get” Anderson. What we take away from most of his output and the enjoyment we experience is what clearly differs. I would not be so presumptuous to explain the myriad of reasons why that might be but I am pretty sure it has very little to do with “get”.

    • The Man permalink
      May 26, 2012 10:40 PM

      You cannot truly love something without first understanding it.

      You are latching onto my use of the phrase “getting it”. It is not that I think people lack the intellectual capacity to understand and appreciate his films. From my experience it is much more personal and spiritual than that. People that I have spoken to who really enjoy his films tend to exhibit a glowing emotional response to something in the film. His unique style of storytelling does not reach everyone that way.

      Take “The Life Aquatic” for instance. It is a very unconventional, slow paced, unique film where not much actually happens. By Hollywood standards it falls short. But to a lot of people there are moments in the film that spark in their heart much stronger than in a typical blockbuster. The Seu Jorge song progressions, the light beachy sea air atmostphere, personal conflicts, love, loss, the slow wavy motion of life moving forward and changing while not really changing at all. His movies put you in a different sort of mindset with their relaxed simplicity and set you up to feel something deeper.

      His unique settings tend to leave out all the flash and awe, but I think its to draw you in closer, making you want to get something out of it and not waste your time. It makes you seek to try and find something fantastic inside. You lean forward. Then when you are committed, on the edge of interest and boredom, it hits you. That special scene. You were more open to it and the feeling came on strong. Its memorable. And it doesn’t happen that way for everyone.

      A scene comes along and you think “That was me once” or you somehow relate to it. Anderson’s setting somehow allows that feeling to reach deeper into you; to affect you. The people who love his movies all have such a reaction at some point and share that affinity with it. That is what great storytelling is. So when I say that some people just dont get Wes Anderson movies, it has nothing to do with being smart enough to understand. It has only to do with whether they can relate to them on a personal level. Most people tend to. Some people cant. Thats fine. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      For me, in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, there were several very special moments. When she reads to her baby and Ned visits, When Ned asks for the third time if Steve knew about him and why he never came to see him and Steve replies “Because I hate fathers and I never wanted to be one.” When Steve and Eleanor have their heart to heart.

      Stories that have you elicit a very powerful emotion… are what this glorious art is all about.

      • July 1, 2012 12:15 AM

        I’m trying to figure why I don’t “get” Wes Anderson movies. I just experienced a theater full of people laughing and crying to Moonrise Kingdom – and I have no idea why. It was a very dissociative experience.

        The Man’s second post here is the closest thing I’ve found to an explanation.

      • January 15, 2013 7:46 PM

        “You cannot truly love something without first understanding it”
        Maybe. Maybe not. But just because you understand something doesn’t mean you will love it. I understand turnips. I just don’t like ’em. I understand tabloid journalism, croquet and racism. But I think they are shallow, boring and offensive (in that order). This strident over opinionated under analytical post confirms that you intend the word “get” to imply a lack of understanding, and thereby a lack of intelligence. My four year old just loves to watch Barney the purple dinosaur. I’m happy for him, but personally it leaves me cold. Maybe I’m just not intelligent enough to get it. The same way I don’t “get” Moonrise Kingdom.

      • Brian permalink
        April 27, 2014 11:02 AM

        I always love this argument. You don’t like it because you don’t get it, which implies that the people who “get it” are more intelligent than those who don’t. However, in these cases, it’s the masses that “get it” and a minority who don’t. Why is that? It’s because, in this case, and many cases like it, the minority is intelligent enough to see Wes Anderson’s movies for what they are and the masses who “get it” are sheep who say they get it so they can seem more intelligent than the popcorn feeders who go to movies for explosions.
        Any movie critic’s list of top 10 films of the year, decade, whatever, will always contain an obscure, independent film, but all lists will contain a different obscure, independent film. The reason is they want to look more intelligent than the other critics, so they pick one no one else has said anything positive about, and few have seen, and tell you why it’s the movie of the year, showing that they must be more intelligent than all other critics because they are the only one to laud this film. The principal is the same.

  5. May 29, 2012 10:17 PM

    Thanks Pure Original for your input, glad to know I’m not alone but also that you The Man for returning to clarify your point. What you said the second time around makes a lot more sense and is less hostile. I like the point you bring up and in that sense, I can see why people “get” his movies. Honestly I just love that people are having a conversation about this and making great points!

  6. Lisa permalink
    June 8, 2012 11:21 AM

    Loved this post! I completely agree and also glad to find I am not alone.

  7. June 14, 2012 1:35 PM

    The only thing worse than a Wes Anderson movie are the fans trying to convince you that it is actually great. Wes Anderson is the indie douche rocker of film. His fans are even more annoying. I guess I just haven’t seen enough of the world . . . Zzzzzzz! What a complete DBag.

  8. Andy permalink
    July 3, 2012 11:17 PM

    Wow, “TheMan” is a complete and utter fanboy. Haven’t seen enough of the world to relate to Anderson’s boring,unrealistic characters? That is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever read alongside being entirely false. His characters are so unrealistic that the more real world experience you have, the less relatable his characters are. There is also nothing wrong with calling a movie torture.

    Please stop conveying your opinion into words. You’re getting stupid all over everything.

  9. Drew permalink
    July 5, 2012 2:44 PM

    I agree with everything you say in your post. However, I kind of like Anderson (in a very lukewarm sense). Although, I haven’t seen all of his films and have only seen two. I can understand why people like his movies. He does quirk very well, and as you say, his movies are visually stunning.
    I do agree that he is overrated, which I believe, is partially due to his audience, most of whom are hipsters that the mainstream have seen to validate because they tend to be very young.and, therefore, viable.
    As to Tyler Perry, I believe one of the major reasons he is critically lambasted is precisely because his movies are NOT geared toward hipsters, and instead geared toward African-American populists.
    There has always been, and always will be, opposing views between populists and hipsters. Both camps need to realize the other is here to stay, as long as both have income to be disposed of.

    • jack1473 permalink
      August 28, 2014 7:49 PM

      Wes Anderson has the aesthetic of a mortician, bright colors and razor sharp edges without a drop of blood. Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Gwyneth Paltrow, my fingers are cold just from typing those names. And actors with any fire, playful or murderous, like Bill Murray or Ralph Fiennes, he snuffs out.

      Whereas, someone like Paul Thomas Anderson can take an average actor like Adam Sandler and get the performance of his life out of him. Punch Drunk Love is as off-kilter strange and awkward as any Anderson film (his interactions with his sisters are excruciating, both bizarre and authentic at the same time).

      Maybe he’s stunted emotionally? The only characters who have inner lives even approximating a flesh and blood person are his love struck teenagers, who flee from adulthood and don’t get away in the end anyway.

      Seven live action films and not one deadly sin in any of them.

      • holoscene permalink
        October 17, 2015 2:23 AM

        Hilariously right on about the mortician aesthetic, and great point about P.T.’s deft handling of Sandler in Punch Drunk Love, and those hyper-real interactions with the sisters — everything Wes Anderson can’t do and clearly wishes he could.

  10. August 14, 2012 1:28 AM

    I find fault with those that find his characters not being realistic? Who said characters have to be realistic to enjoy them? Life aquatic is a fantasy. It rarely tries to be otherwise. Have u actually seen the movie? If you find the movie then apparently you are a lover of Michael bay and the complete shit he makes. Want to talk unrealistic with no character development? Try half the movies that make a hundred million that come out in the summer. And the fact that u even mention Tyler perry in the same article as Anderson proves to me that u are going to cinema hell to watch the collected works of uwe boll for all eternity. Oh wait, you probably like those movies don’t you? Not to boring for you I expect? What are your favorite movies cenopheliac? What IS to your taste? And do you know what character development even is? If you don’t see it in andersons films then you have no idea.

    • August 14, 2012 1:53 PM

      Jess, since you asked questions about my movie taste and have placed judgement on what type of films I like, despite being on a site that’s devoted to me discussing films I love and dislike, I’m going to assume you merely skimmed over my post and didn’t really understand the concepts of realism and character development. A character doesn’t have to be real to the world we know to be realistic, a character gains realism because of how they are written or how the actor portrays them.

      If you want a better understanding of why I don’t like Anderson’s film (except Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr. Fox) might I suggest actually reading the post along with my Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr. Fox reviews. If you still can’t grasp my reasoning then I’m sorry but am not sure how else to explain it.

      Also I don’t mind Michael Bay films, I’ve only seen about 2 or 3 but I think that man is a phenomenal action director.

    • Fo'Drizzle permalink
      August 5, 2015 12:56 PM

      Ok, Jess Wright, you moron, tell us what his magical character development is? Please, explain. Someone has to. His films don’t do it. Probably because he’s on the
      spectrum, and provides safe, non-threatening films for white bourgeoisie assholes that need their life portrayed on film. Go team.
      You idiot.

      • August 6, 2015 7:36 AM

        Fo’ Drizzle while I’m glad you have joined this on going debate, personal attacks are not needed. It’s very easy to get riled up and passionate with our arguments but I want to promote insightful debate not unnecessary name calling. Thanks!

  11. EdibleJewel permalink
    September 30, 2012 5:27 AM

    my dear movie fans, the whole point of Wes Anderson’s films is that they are not to be enjoyed as cinematic master pieces for people who spend their lives living vicariously through film, but as causal references to metaphoric life as experienced by those who spend their lives diving for hidden treasures in their blow up swimming pool, racing against wild horses on the indoor bicycle track and playing with play mobil pirates in the bath. These movies are not references to life to be appreciated for their cinematic brilliance and ability to portray real people and real emotions, they are to be films to be appreciated in that brief moment at the end of a busy weekend of high adventure in the backyard when you are so exhausted from playing that you must collapse on the couch and in a desperate attempt not to fall asleep when your body is sunburnt and exhausted from too much fun, watch something to bring back memories of the days and nights gone by or gather inspiration for the days to come.

    • September 30, 2012 10:15 AM

      What a beautiful way of expressing that, thank you for sharing!

    • Brian permalink
      April 27, 2014 11:05 AM

      Those people are sad, pathetic wastes of skin and don’t deserve screen time, nor do they deserve to be mythologized as larger than life figures.

    • Fo'Drizzle permalink
      August 5, 2015 12:58 PM

      And this deserves my attention? No, it doesn’t. It’s a pathetic attempt, but at least it pays white people well.

  12. October 14, 2012 9:59 PM

    All I can say is Wes Anderson films are not for me, people have different tastes, I think his films are alot like the original Ricky Gervais office, its a bit like watching a documentary about slightly quirky people where nothing much actually happens,

    However well observed his world may be, its ultimately little more than a empty experience if the style or characters don’t touch you, I always feel that if within 5 minutes of a Wes Anderson movie your thinking I don’t like this style of movie or the Characters just seem dull and staid then you may as well switch off as it aint going to change much in the remaining hour and a half.

    Its a bit like that for me, his films feel like a one trick pony, characters from any of his movies wouldn’t feel out of place if they popped up in a different title, the pacing feels very similar, loose plot lines that don’t develop much, thats the major issue, people either love it or hate it, and as its a style he repeats, your left feeling the same after every movie. Your almost forced to hold onto the same judgements you felt from the first Wes Anderson movie you saw, for people to say you havent watched enough to get it is wrong, I think if you have seen one of his movies and loved it, watch the others as your likely to love them too, however if you say any of his past work, say you saw the life aquatic and hated it, just found it dull and full of 2 dimensional characters, then I’d say you’ll probably feel the same about every other film of his you’ll see.

    I myself love some quirky comedy, I loved ‘being john malkovich’, some of my favourite films are very obscure like Guy Maddens, “The saddest music in the world”, or doc style comedy like “man bites dog” or , but Anderson movies just leave me cold, its wierd, I like simular style pieces but by other directors like Napolean Dynamite, but hated sitting through any Wes Anderson movie I’ve seen. Wierdly enough I also didn’t enjoy the Office, everyone I knew loved it, but for me it was just didn’t hit funny or touching

  13. Robert Henderson permalink
    October 15, 2012 2:10 AM

    When I started watching “Moonrise Kingdom,” after seeing its good reviews, I saw Anderson’s name and thought, “Uh oh.” I gave it a shot, but had to turn in off after about half an hour. I haven’t been able to get through a single one of his films, and I have stopped probably less than ten films in my 4+ decades of life, most of them his. “Tennenbaums” was especially painful. I lasted maybe thirty minutes on that one too. After turning it off, I looked the guy up, and I found that everything he has done I have hated. Yes, hate is a strong word, but I truly hate his work. I have no idea why he is held in such high regard. The characters are boring. The story is boring. The cinematography is insufferable. He is the only artist (being very generous calling him that) of any kind where I will make sure his name is not on it before getting involved. I just learned my lesson with finality with “MK.” Great artists grow, expand, and do new things. He continues to do exactly the same thing over and over. He is yet another example of lack of talent being mistaken for genius.

    • Edo permalink
      May 5, 2014 5:11 PM

      Or perhaps you have a different taste than people, myself included, who do like a lot of his movies.
      Tadaa. Conflict resolved, everybody happy.

      • May 5, 2014 6:31 PM

        But where’s the fun in that? haha I love the conversation that this started, positive and negative. Plus it gives people justifiable reasons why they like or dislike something.

  14. LastExile permalink
    October 28, 2012 1:11 AM

    Kind of funny that you refer to Anderson as a “visionary mastermind” in your Tiny Furniture/Girls review.

    visionary mastermind

  15. LastExile permalink
    October 29, 2012 2:09 AM

    well, if i felt that i had to “slit my wrists to escape the slow torture” of any director i don’t think that i would refer to them as a visionary mastermind

    • October 29, 2012 9:10 AM

      You raise a very valid point, however I’ve always admitted to loving Anderson’s visual eye. I think his visuals are stunning but it’s his story telling and execution of films that I hate.I’ll be more mindful of that in the future though!

      • Edo permalink
        May 8, 2014 3:38 PM

        Ok first off, I didn’t like Budapest hotel though that seems to be his biggest critical hit. For me in that movie, nearly all characters were only defined by how they looked, and not by their actions and words. Only Ralph Fiennes had depth, and the most outspoken character after that, as over the top as he was, was played by Willem Dafoe. Other than that there isn’t much to tell about them. I agree with you that Darjeeling Limited is one of his best films.
        Now, why I like most of his films. You state that they don’t feel real. Well that’s intentional, it’s surreal. People don’t act and talk like they do in Wes Anderson movies. In Wes Anderson movies people don’t need to think before making extremely long sentences. They say the most emotional things, as if they are ordering coffee. It’s surreal. But most of the time they do have a character, which is why I can feel with them. He creates a new reality, where in the absurd becomes normal, and the normal absurd. He isn’t trying to make a realistic representation of the world, he is making his own a weird reflection of it. It’s a very typical style, and his movies are almost a genre on it’s own. I would like to see if he could make a different type of movie, but that being said, he’s the only one who can make a Wes Anderson movie.

  16. February 13, 2013 6:07 PM

    Oh wow. I completely and totally agree with you. Spot on. Why don’t others see it? Makes me feel like I’m weird…

    • February 13, 2013 9:56 PM

      Thanks for the comment and no you’re definitely not weird although I felt the same way for the longest. It’s just a case of different strokes different folks, glad you’re on my side though 🙂

  17. Nick permalink
    May 19, 2013 3:29 AM

    Wes Anderson is awful. No one has the guts to take a stand and be the person who says “all of you are wrong and this guy sucks.”
    His films are not even films. They’re cardboard cut outs. He doesn’t make movies.
    Moonrise Kingdom is the same film he always makes. Boring,bland etc I know where the jokes fall but they are awful.

  18. marky permalink
    May 20, 2013 10:47 AM

    ah … the dreaded Wes Anderson!!! Hearing his name makes my heart sink!!! His movies are so dull. I like oddball, quirky movies but Anderson movies always seem to miss something . . . that little something that makes a film like Napolean Dynamite so warm and likeable! maybe one day he’ll make a movie il like ….. but the thought of having to sit through another half dozen of his pictures to find a diamond in the rough makes my boz itch!!! (and im not talking about a pleasant tingle)!

  19. Jonathan permalink
    June 18, 2013 1:10 PM

    You don’t mind Michael Bay films.

    I don’t need to say anything else.

    • June 18, 2013 2:30 PM

      You don’t, if you don’t want to have a conversation about it but seeing as you left a comment I would think you’d want to. I don’t get people who feel like just because someone likes a Michael Bay film that they’re opinion is void or that there taste in film is anything less. That’s such a pretentious assumption. Do I love Michael Bay?
      No. Do I like his film’s? Yeah, a few! And why not? The man is great at directing balls to the wall action films and can make the spectacle of action look better than most directors.

    • badblogcollection permalink
      February 16, 2015 12:35 PM

      I like innovative haute cuisine, but I also like a pizza from my neighborhood pizza joint down the street, too. There is nothing wrong with someone occasionally liking a little mindless entertainment, it doesn’t make their opinion on arthouse cinema any less valid.

  20. Eadaoin O Donoghue permalink
    June 20, 2013 6:55 PM

    THANK YOU.
    I just had to stop watching Moonrise Kingdom after deciding to try to “get it”. Just dont.
    Its quite creepy. Not a single relatable emotion or human exists. And its quite boring.
    Man cannot live on clever visuals alone.
    I can see why people like it. Its tidy, pretty, “quirky” etc. But ultimately hollow,emotionally autistic hipster porn.

  21. Sofia permalink
    December 19, 2013 6:17 PM

    Firstly, I am sorry for my bad grammar, English is my second language.

    For everyone thats says that only hipsters and young people like wes’s work, I don’t want to shatter your ego but thats not true. Because when people like Scorsese pay respect to this Men, we have to assume that his work mean something. If you don’t respect his work at least respect him as an artist. He could do anything he wanted to, he certainly has the talent and intelligence to do so, if he makes movies the way he makes them accept that it is for a certain reason. Yes, he is a visionary and like all other visionaries throughout time, some people will discredit and criticise his work and you are these people.

    I am not a hipster, but I know may hipsters like his movies. Its probably the quirkiness mixed with the fact that his movies are between independent and mainstream cinema. I completely adore his movies. I love his vision, I don’t see the point of trying to get someone to like his movies, like Simon Smith said if 5 min into it you think you don’t like it you might as well spare yourself the bad experience and turn it off. So I will try to explain why I feel a unearthly connection to his movies.

    Firstly all his movies have a common theme, family. These families are dysfunctional and it explores the consequences of parents actions/lives on their children, these are normally portrayed as victims. Anderson’s characters are super-honest, numbed versions of ourselves. They are absurdist childish versions of ourselves portrayed realistically. Wes uses a stylised minimalistic dialogue, and infers feelings in subtle 4 word sentences. For example when Steve Zissou is asked what is the scientific propose to kill this endangered species, and theres a long pause and he replies “revenge”, what it really represents is a childish thought process we all have when we loose control a situation, and this is blaming someone and getting angry at him or/it. Steve knows it the shark’s natural instinct, but its still hard to accept the situation. I read a lot of people saying that theres no raw emotion or passion to his characters and that his movies are dull and shallow. I his scripts are striped of unnecessary dialogue.

    Is it unrealistic? Yes, because its meant to be. So are all movie scripts, people don’t really talk so eloquently in real life, and like someone told me once ” its not really happening is it?!”

    Is it shallow? No, try conveying 3 different feelings in a 3 word sentence and you will understand that is much harder.

    His humour is very subtle, its character based so if you don’t find these characters funny, you wont find the movies funny. And I believe you will only find the characters funny if you identify with them, most characters are self-centred and oblivious to other peoples feelings, egotistical, revengeful but deep down all have a good heart. I recognise myself in that description and thats why I love his stories.
    I was saying I loved is his style I feel like he recreates my ideas about grownups when I was a child, including the very colourful world around me. He stages this colourful and perfectly constricted dollhouse with broken and unperfected people in it, I believe thats how he sees whats around him; A perfect world affected by the people in it that make bad choices.

    I think thats sort of it. Thank you for reading. I am sorry for my bad grammar, English is my second language.

    • December 21, 2013 9:49 AM

      Sofia, first and foremost thank you so much for that very in-depth and personal response. The reason I even wrote this post initially (and all my critiques actually) was to invite an on going discourse among people where they could tell me their reasons for liking something that I don’t. I like the points you’ve made in your comment and I’m thrilled at how well you explained yourself. Your analogy of the broken dollhouse is very poignant and eye opening in understanding his appeal. You’re right, Wes has a very niche humor that is either inviting to those who get it or repelling to those who don’t. Since writing this post, I had fallen in love with his film Moonrise Kingdom, however, I still fail to see the wonder in his past films. I appreciate your take on the shallowness of his characters and how you relate to them. I personally don’t share that same allegiance with most of his characters but that’s because they don’t make sense or relate to my understanding of people. I come from a very dysfunctional family, but my experiences growing up and even now have been on the extreme opposite of what
      Wes portrays which is ultimately why I see these people as unrealistic. Which therein lies my reasoning for not liking his films, because it’s very niche and I’m not apart of that audience that “gets” the situations and feelings of his characters. It’s a very subjective reason for not liking something of course, but I feel that “good writing” can make the most differing backgrounds relate to a character’s struggle. Thank you again for replying with such a kind, informative response. I truly appreciate the conversation!

  22. Trevor permalink
    December 22, 2013 5:25 AM

    Oh my goodness, i am not alone.

  23. February 11, 2014 2:07 AM

    Have you seen the trailer for “Hotel Budapest” (or whatever it is)? He seems to have out-Andersoned himself, if that’s conceivable.
    I have seen most of his films and not once have I been emotionally moved by one of his characters or the actors portraying them. Mildly amused maybe. Perhaps I’m not supposed to feel emotions during his movies…but for me, that is what makes a movie.

    • February 11, 2014 9:32 AM

      I haven’t seen the trailer but I know of it. I’ve kind of been avoiding watching it honestly haha. And exactly, I too have experienced little emotional feeling while watching his films. I don’t get films that are not supposed to make you feel, the most basic of images attempts to extract an emotional response so movies that don’t is just odd.

  24. YouSpeakTruth permalink
    March 6, 2014 11:53 AM

    It’s true, the author captures Wes exactly. His movies are overrated trash, hopelessly formulaic and predictable in that there is nothing to predict. They are entirely–and nothing more than–arbitrarily weird people doing weird things. They are simply a long series of random thoughts any one of us can conjure, thrown together into an entire movie. Like a very, very boring dream.

  25. S-j permalink
    March 7, 2014 10:27 PM

    Wow guys way too deep the films are just not funny

  26. realist permalink
    March 9, 2014 12:15 AM

    Some might say this has an artistic license to create what he does… but all his characters are by far the most stoic, aloof, weirdos that should really be on screen, and never be empathized with. They are not human, NOT EVER. The problem is that all these Latte sipping, iphone loving, prius driving, tree hugging, self righteous Hipster yuppies from Austin Texas, and every other city overrun by neo-hippies, do their best to promote his trash. I actually found his portrayal of Indian people offensive in the Darjeeling Limited. What? He thinks that just because he has a liberalistic view of the world he can show everyone in developing countries to be a bunch of simpletons??? Funny thing is, laborers over there simply hear the word “Hollywood” filmmaker, and they come running in droves to help… even without knowing that the film is a solid slap in the face about their culture and daily way of life.

  27. March 10, 2014 7:12 PM

    wes anderson is a white guy who thinks he is subtle and interesting. if he is boring you, you might be more subtle and interesting than he is.

    • March 10, 2014 7:28 PM

      well maybe he thinks he is quirky or something (rather than subtle). he is not quirky.

      I think the reason this guy bothers me so much, is that his whole phenomenon is part of a hedgemonic engine. It has that smack to me, much like ally mcbeal (another ‘quirky’ show about status quo white people maybe i fell asleep).

      a hipster will stare at a mud puddle interminably as long as the other hipsters are doing the same….and the sound of a hipster appreciating something alone in the woods…srsly not cool…

      • Brian permalink
        April 27, 2014 11:12 AM

        That’s how everyone tried to excuse Fantastic Mr. Fox. it’s quirky. It wasn’t quirky. It was poorly done. Stop motion animation takes precision and an extreme level of skill. He directed it from another country over his iPad. The fur on the puppets moved like it was an outer covering of worms. It was disgusting to watch and took me out of the film continually. He was a lazy director with no talent for the medium and they excuse it with “quirky.” These are people who desperately need to think that they understand his movies so they can convince themselves and others that they are more intelligent than the average movie goer.

  28. March 13, 2014 2:17 AM

    I just watched a commercial for Wes Anderson’s newest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and decided to google him and see if I was the only one who doesn’t find humor in his movies. They are so boring. I saw Owen Wilson and Bill Murray and other actors who I love and usually think are hilarious in these movies and I just don’t get it. I see I’m not alone. I’ll stick to movies that really make me laugh like Meet the parents, Shanghai Noon, and What about Bob. The life Aquatic, The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom? Really? Come on. This must be something like the people who were fooled into thinking art drawn by kids was by some great new modernist artist. When will the fact that this is all a joke and it’s a social experiment be revealed?

  29. audelair permalink
    March 20, 2014 2:16 PM

    I think with Wes Anderson, there are admirable qualities. Insights into human behavior and emotions, humor, etc., but the entire experience still leaves me flat. In fact, it is the existence of these qualities that keeps me watching, which is why it becomes an ultimately frustrating experience. The humor never elevates beyond mildly amusing, and the moments of profundity rarely reaches anything that I expect from great filmmaking. Among his peers, I find much greater filmmaking from PT Anderson, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman.
    In some ways, I relate Wes Anderson to Jean-Luc Godard, which sounds like high praise, and in a way, it is, but both directors frustrate me. I have never enjoyed a film from either director, despite recognizing its qualities, especially in cinematic style. With Godard, I appreciate his qualities, but among the other filmmakers of or around that era, I would much rather watch Melville, Tarkovsky, Bergman, and Fellini.
    I don’t hate Wes Anderson, but I do find it annoying when his fanboys think that people who don’t like his films are beneath him. It is true that I love Hollywood blockbusters, and have even enjoyed a Michael Bay film. I love a good popcorn flick, and they have a place in my enjoyment of cinema. But when I am looking for something deeper and more profound, Wes Anderson’s films just don’t do it for me, at least not yet.
    I applaud you for trying to rewatch all of his films, as I doubt I will ever go through that. (I have seen them all once). However, I will still pay attention to his career. He is a young director, and I still believe he is immensely talented. I do not mind that he is preoccupied with the same themes, as I think many great filmmakers are. There might be a masterpiece in his future that will be truly extraordinary, and I would not be surprised given his talents.

    • March 20, 2014 8:11 PM

      I definitely agree with the points you made, even about the directors whom fair better than Wes. I really like the comparison to Godard as well, it’s a very interesting one. I personally am enamoured with Godard, but I understand the reservations that others may have about his films. He and Anderson are very similar in the sense that they focus their films mostly on style and visuals. For me, the major difference is that Godard is attempting to say something about politics and social norms and prove a few points in his work, while I still have yet to figure out what Anderson is attempting to convey in his films. Like I’ve mebtioned, I respect Anderson visually but I don’t like his content nor how successful he is because of it. Thanks for your comment and sharing your insights though. It brought a smile to my face!

      • audelair permalink
        March 21, 2014 12:17 PM

        After I made my comment comparing Wes to Godard, I browsed around your site and noticed you have written a lot on Godard. Just browsing through your posts make me want to explore his films more. I am willing to reevaluate my feelings on his work!

      • March 21, 2014 7:11 PM

        Yay, that’s awesome!! His work can be truly frustrating, but I think it’s rewarding depending on what you look for in films. He’s a cinematic punk rocker type who likes to deconstruct ideas and structures to engage viewers in an active watching experience. Not all of his films are golden, and some even I don’t like, but I love the method of his madness. If you do dive in, I suggest Breathless, My Life to Live, or Masculin Feminine first.

  30. March 21, 2014 11:32 AM

    I’ve seen The Life Aquatic, The Royal Tenenbaums , Moonrise Kingdom, and Rushmore. Didn’t know who Anderson was, or that these were his films. After seeing the trailer for Budapest, I immediately new all of the films (with the exception of Rushmore) were closely connected. They all looked the same: that is, chock full of shots that looked like they were staged in a high school auditorium, with everything centered and falsely symmetrical, visually that is. To me, these movies (with the exception of Rushmore) looked like they were made by a film school grad that only learned how to line up shots that fit snugly into his viewfinder. His book-end looking compositional film shots feel more claustrophobic to my senses than the attempt at “arty” affect that it appears he his trying to convey. I guess the reason why I sat through them was the same reason I sometimes enjoyed watching school plays when I was a kid………..I was waiting for the “tree” to break character……….

    • March 21, 2014 7:13 PM

      Lol I love that comparison. The more I talk about Wes’ films with close friends and acquaintances, the more I’m starting to see that many others feel the same way with their reason for continuously watching them.

  31. CharlesMartel permalink
    March 22, 2014 3:35 PM

    I do find his movies more endurable than those of Robert Altman – or his protigee,Alan Rudolph – or David Lynsh,Spike Lee,Orson Welles’ worst,Henry Jaglom, Quentin Tarantino, Godard, the Star Wars films,Douglas Sirk ,Michael Mann, Woody Allen, Terence Malick, to name but a few.
    If I were trapped for eternity,with only those filmmakers’ movies, I would endure only Anderson’s….but that’s still not really praise.

  32. TyTyHarHar86 permalink
    March 22, 2014 5:18 PM

    I enjoy all of his films and it is really quite shocking that so many of you share the same opinion. Most of you sound like hipsters not liking something because so many people do. Movies help me escape reality. That is all.

    • March 22, 2014 5:45 PM

      But what do you enjoy about his films? Movies help me escape from reality too, but what makes Wes’ films the catalyst for your escape and not another director? If you read the post and comments you’ll see people’s disdain reaches much further than “because everyone likes it.”

  33. Mike permalink
    March 29, 2014 10:27 AM

    Whenever I gently try to suggest to someone at a party that Wes Anderson sucks, it turns out that that person is one of WA’s cult members and I’m lucky to escape with my nuts intact. So thank you for this suitably passionless yet very well presented discussion. I will break it down into talking points for my next party.

  34. March 30, 2014 11:12 PM

    Thank you for this opinion. I have a knee jerk reaction to a lot of these directors that so neatly make films for film study classes or in order to gain respect from the critics and forget to tell a personal and moving story.
    Wes Anderson films are like jewel boxes. Perfectly crafted and all the edges smoothed out as as to be free from disdain – but ultimately seem only to appeal to people who are impressed by the pseudo-intellectualism he purports.
    I think his emotionally alienated characters are 90% of what is wrong with a certain subset of the American population – namely one that shares his background: white, upper class, suburban, and easily impressed by theorists he may or may not have read superficially.
    I know I get a lot of flack for having my opinion since I do happen to be arty and have a lot of friends who grew up similarly to Mr. Anderson, so it’s really nice to hear an opinion differing from that of the mainstream critics.
    I just can’t get behind a director I find to be striving for a superficial perfection so overly crafted and so perfectly precious.

  35. April 4, 2014 9:31 PM

    Aside from his unassailable visual gifts, I suspect one of the main reasons Wes Anderson’s movies are so popular is that they hit the current zeitgeist dead-on (yeah, yeah, I hate that word too, but bear with me).
    As your piece and many comments point out, his characters are almost universally aloof, disconnected, unfeeling, etc. I think the word we’re looking for is the concept Gen X and the Millennials have spent the last 25 years beating into the ground: They’re ironic.
    There’s a detachment in the characters from the goings-on around them, their lack of emotion a strange counter-point to the visual smorgasbords the movies undeniably offer. And I think therein lies the appeal for a lot of people. We live in the Age of Irony. Or rather, the Age of Trying Really Hard to Be Ironic. The problem with Anderson (and a lot of contemporary novelists, like David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Jennifer Egan, etc) is that they don’t have the life experiences necessary for true ironic detachment.
    For one to use irony effectively, one has to have some experience from which to draw. One of the greatest ironic novels of all time, Catch-22, was a story about a WWII bomber crew written by a man who flew dozens of combat missions in Europe, Joseph Heller. Likewise, Dr. Strangelove was written by two guys with combat or military experience. Woody Allen makes great movies about neurotic urbanites and artists because that’s exactly who he is. Hemingway wrote some of the most deceptively ironic short stories in the English language based on his experiences in World War I.
    Imagine if Hemingway had studied about trench warfare at the University of Wyoming, then tried to write “All the Dead Soldiers.” Or if Steinbeck, rather than leaving Stanford and going to live and work in the California migrant camps, instead took a grad course, “Sociology 301: The Oakie Experience,” before attempting “Of Mice and Men” (another deceptively ironic masterpiece)? Not a chance, right?
    In contrast, many artists these days are pure products of the academy. They’re basically grad students. If your life experience consists of school, college, and grad school (or internships/PA jobs/etc) it’s hard to see how you can bring the essential perspective to your art.
    Anderson started working on Bottle Rocket within a couple years of graduating from UT Austin and he’s been making films ever since. It’s no wonder his characters, while traveling through India, for example, convey zero sense of what it’s like to actually live in India. What’s worse, artists whose formative experience consists of college and grad school never learn how little they actually know about the real world. Anderson is making films in a bubble, to be consumed at leisure by other people in the same bubble.
    I think that’s why so many attempts at irony these days end up feeling more like mockery, or just plain sarcasm. I have nothing personally against Anderson, but I do wish he’d spend a couple of years working at a relief camp in Africa, or maybe do a turn in the National Guard. Get the hell out of the bubble, man! It will do wonders for your art 🙂

    • April 6, 2014 12:11 PM

      Great comment, thanks for the insight! I was actually dragged into seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel the other night and my exact argument was that it seemed to be the product of a stereotypical film student. The precision of things and need to perfect the visual image with no care for the depth of story is what’s most irritating to me about his films. I agree, getting out of his bubble would do his films wonders!

    • January 2, 2016 2:27 AM

      Found this site by typing in ‘Wes Anderson sucks, knowing I’d find differing opinions from the mindless hipster worship. This was the most astute entry. Rushmore was the 1st movie of his I saw. Have always loved it. Rented Royal Tennenbaums when it came out and could not get through any of it. JUST finished RT and still see no real point. Often said to be his best film. If I make through the rest, I’m pretty sure I’ll rank it worst. Watched Life Aquatic 2 nights ago and somewhat enjoyed it but have mixed feelings. Reading the Wikipedia page will quickly sort out the mystery. He went to and was kicked out of a school like Rushmore, and landed in a school like Grover Cleveland. He was a distracted student like Max Fischer and had a crush on an older woman. Besides the fact that of any of his films, this wasn’t just the film he had any direct experience with, this WAS largely his world, and Max Fischer- him. I disagree with the above appraisals of Max Fischer and Herman Blume. I feel that absolute perfect synergy was achieved with both of them, and EVERY single character. The rest of his movies (possibly excepting Bottle Rocket of course) are cutesy, deadpan, stillborn characters dropped from an airplane onto his elementary auditorium, laterally framed sets and scenarios. But hey, growing up, between AC/DC and Judas Priest, I fell in love with Emerson, Lake and Palmer. After persuading my mom to buy me the triple live album Welcome Back My Freinds To The Show That Never Ends, I quickly made the decision to listen to it multiple times, in its entirety, start to finish. Such is art, good or bad.

      • January 2, 2016 10:53 PM

        It cracks me up that you found this site by googling that. Hooray for Google! And I never knew that about Wes’ upbringing, it makes so much sense as to why Rushmore had so much heart to it. Thanks for that information and for the kind comment!

  36. Yasemin S. permalink
    April 7, 2014 8:06 AM

    I have no thoughts or feelings pro or con for Anderson’s films, since I have not seen any–yet. But I must say that there is no reason to assume that every writer creates “characters that viewers are supposed to care for”. That description might apply to a majority of work, but not all. Some writers aim at exactly the opposite. Sometimes those sorts of apathetic, cold characters make us think harder about the film, despite our annoyance.

    • April 7, 2014 8:28 AM

      While I definitely agree with you, your quote is a misreading of what I wrote. I wrote: “Anderson constructs characters that viewers are supposed to care for, however, they are never developed enough to encourage true empathy from the audience” a statement that I stand by. I am very aware and accepting of writers who create characters that aren’t meant to be explored or meant to be cold and resistant to viewer understanding. Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is one of the many films that focus on substance or style rather than characters. However, Anderson’s films seem to be character studys. He makes films that revolves around a select person or group of people. My gripe is why do that if you refuse to explore the very characters you are forcing people to watch for an hour and a half? I just watched his most recent film, Grand Budapest Hotel, and it’s exhausting to watch how much effort he puts in to framing images but not in his story. He’s free to do as he’d like of course, just as I am free to critique what he does. Thanks for the comment though, if you ever find the.effort to watch his films please comment back and let me know what you think of him. I’m always interested in further feedback.

  37. Rosa permalink
    April 7, 2014 12:40 PM

    With all the hype surrounding The Grand Budapest Hotel, I had to google ‘i don’t like wes anderson films’ just to find this lone voice of reason amidst all the gushing reviews of his work. I agree that his work is very visually appealing, but I would rather look a blog full of screen caps than have to sit through one of his films. His characters are so affected that I struggle to empathise with them and am sceptical of those who do. I think you are absolutely right to say that ‘Anderson’s films play out as if someone created a false world where problems only exist as a means of plot devices and coincidences’ – of course those sorts of people with those sorts of problems exist, albeit in a tiny privileged bubble, but that is not how they behave. Anderson’s films are pure artifice from the direction to the characters to the script. To me, visual spectacle is all they are and all Anderson’s work will ever be.

  38. April 8, 2014 6:24 AM

    I wondered if i was alone in detesting Wes Anderson movies. First I Googled “Slums of Beverly Hills to make sure it wasn’t a Wes Anderson movie (’cause I liked that one.) It wasn’t. Here’s my take on why I hate these movies – their “quirky” characters suck. Someone above mentioned Napoleon Dynamite – this may be the masterwork of quirky characters – I really liked that movie. But it’s a lot harder to do than it looks! Slums of Beverly Hills – also quirky – also good. Little Miss Sunshine (Not Wes Anderson either!) is an example of not good quirky or faux quirky. I don’t buy any of the characters for a second and the situations, characters are cheap, obvious and crude. (I actually thought Little Miss Sunshine was Wes Anderson cause it had the same lame writing.) The one very maddening thing about Wes is that he gets Bill Murray in a lot of his movies, and I generally love Bill’s stuff (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, Lost in Translation, etc.) But, no matter, I’ve seen a few of Wes’s in entirety (Tanenbaums, Life Aquatic) and pieces of others (Moonrise) – they’re all crappy to me.

  39. April 27, 2014 2:01 PM

    Glad to see others out there refuse to drink the Wes Anderson kool-aid. I saw the Budapest Hotel last night..ugh…. I GET his films, but always have a splitting headache after I see one. Similar to what happens after breathing in the plastic fumes at Walmart. I am sure he is a brilliant fascinating person blah blah blah, so I wish Mr. Anderson would try another schtick. Please think outside of your current predictable shoebox, Mr. Anderson…..really surprise us next time!

  40. Jim permalink
    July 19, 2014 7:38 AM

    I, too, can’t stand Wes Anderson movies. I kinda liked Moonrise Kingdom, so I thought I would like Grand Budapest Hotel after all the rave reviews, even from non-Wes Anderson fans, but nope. Same monotonous garbage. The cinematography would be interesting for a photo or two, but after 20 minutes of the same still shots and dolly shots it becomes dull and formulaic.
    I love quirkily movies, but my idea of quirky is Raising Arizona, Flirting with Disaster, even Little Miss Sunshine and Men Who Stare at Goats. There is nothing likable about any Wes Anderson characters. He is like somebody trying their best to make a good quirky movie but just not understanding the concept at all. Instead his movies turn out to be some horrible sort of quirky that only really boring people who consider Masterpiece Theatre an action comedy would want to see.
    I once went to a birthday party some woman threw for a friend. She actually planned to have a bunch of people over for a party. She was fairly well off. There was no cake, just a plate of dry crackers, and the only thing she had to drink was water. I sure that woman finds Wes Anderson movies thoroughly entertaining and hilarious. To each their own.

    • July 20, 2014 12:32 PM

      I couldn’t agree with you more! I really liked Moonrise Kingdom, so although Grand Budapest looked uninteresting to me I went in with an open mind. It was one of the worst Wes film’s I’ve seen. Such an awful story and the most repetitive cinematic shots I’ve ever seen. I too love the quirkiness of Coen Brothers films and even Todd Solondz but Wes and I just don’t mesh.

  41. October 2, 2014 4:32 PM

    Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website?
    I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.

    I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good
    platform.

    • October 3, 2014 7:48 AM

      WordPress Is my preferred choice but blogger and square space are other options too.

  42. Cee permalink
    October 16, 2014 2:09 AM

    I would just like to say I think Wes Anderson is a really bright, brilliant guy, but I’m getting sick of what he packages. If he weren’t bright and brilliant I wouldn’t waste my time. Please, Wes, have a later Richard Avedon moment that changes your game. I’m certain you can find it. First of all, fire everybody.

    BottleRocket, Rushmore, Darjeeling were great films (skipping across shit I hated). I was kind of done at several points but these are the films that kept me engaged.

    And then I heard the Grand Budapest Hotel was a grand departure. Word was Wes had actually stepped out of the comfort zone he’d built for himself. Bull Shit.

    I watched it and got 20 minutes through the thing. Turned it off. Never done that with any of his films til now. Worse is I’m a fan of historical fiction, good or bad. I will sit through some of the worst historical drama you could begin to imagine. This was pap. Nothing, nothing there. Same Ol Same Ol. And barf.

    I don’t care if you made up the Eastern European pastiche. It’s fucking, fucking tired.

    Erudition in Wes’ case is annoying. I’m a very well-read person. This shit gets right there—to a very annoying height of pretense—place I can’t handle.

    Please Wes, be your smart self, but please consider being real. Please consider being common. Somehow the Coen Bros. get away with murder every film. P.T. Anderson, too. All well read. Their stuff never stops pushing boundaries. It’s never cute. Easy to digest. Please, grow up.

    I think the reason I’m so willing to insert myself into a comment section is THAT WES IS a smart guy. I would be very happy if he made a Dumb and Dumber at this point (PT Anderson made Punch Drunk). OR Please make another Bottle Rocket for crying out loud. I’m so sick of how wretchingly cute your films are.

    Wow. What if Wes joined the Marvel Universe?

    • October 16, 2014 10:55 PM

      Thank you for your comment, definitely agree. Check out my review for Grand Budapest: https://thecinephiliac.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/the-grand-budapest-hotel-2014/. Very trite movie, and extremely annoying to sit through. If Wes joined the Marvel Universe?? Shhhh… don’t say things like that. Money hungry studios are listening!

    • Yasemin S. permalink
      October 21, 2014 1:04 PM

      @ Cee: I’ve been following this discussion with great interest, since I have seen only one Wes Anderson film (a very long time ago). I walked away dissatisfied, and am trying to decide whether to commit time to watching more. But you don’t make clear what bothers you about the films. You mention the films being shit, and that you’re tired of them, but the only thing I got out of your comment was that he was wasting his smarts by not being real or common, and also that his films are too cute. So is your criticism mainly that the films are too cute? Also, by ‘real’ do you mean ‘realistic’ or something else?

      This is a sincere, not facetious question.

  43. December 6, 2014 12:18 AM

    BRAVO to the cinephiliac for saying exactly what I believe about Wes Anderson!

    Of course, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion but I find Anderson’s films to be ultra “self-aware” drivel. He’s a director clearly in love with his own style and uses that very same template again and again and again.

    You’ve seen one Wes Anderson film? You’ve seen them all. Just plug in different zany characters, story board images, and silly one-liners uttered by the clearly insane. Anderson says be damned to any real plot or anything pertinent to keep the audience engaged.

    If I never see a sneak preview for another Anderson film the rest of my life, it will be a very happy existence for me.

  44. December 10, 2014 9:09 AM

    I was wondering whether people’s appreciation/hatred of Wes Anderson might divide along class or political lines; in my experience most affluent liberals (or more likely liberals from affluent families) I know seem to adore him and conservatives or working class folk are indifferent. Of course that might be said about conservative’s reaction to art in general. I can say that when Anderson first got on my radar (I’m a gen Xer also) I really dug his stuff for the nostalgia and for the style that referenced some of my favorite childhood writers (Dahl and Gorey) . As I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser, I find a lot of his tropes insufferably precious now. I hope someone hasn’t already pointed this out, but I was thinking that one of the reasons his films rely so heavily on the coolness of the(un-original) music is because in agreement with many of your observations, the film would be transparently all style and no substance even more.

    • December 11, 2014 8:30 AM

      Thanks for the comment! I definitely think class and political lines has something to do with Anderson’s likability factor. From my experience, as you’ve mentioned, very liberal affluent people love his work while anyone who falls outside of that tend to unanimously avoid even watching him. I grew up lower class, with very little privilege so watching films, namely Anderson’s, where people’s issues arise from their privilege just does not connect with me. Great note on the music, I haven’t really noticed his musical leanings but I do agree with you on that point.

  45. omar permalink
    December 17, 2014 5:16 AM

    Booooo what a sour puss

  46. Don permalink
    January 15, 2015 8:08 PM

    Came here after finding out the The Grand Budapest Hotel is nominated for tons of Academy Awards.

    Not even going to lie, found this after searching “Wes Anderson sucks” on Google. I grew up middle class and liberal…. so I dont think it has anything to do with that. He’s terrible… so bad in-fact, I find myself turning into a judgmental a-hole, anytime I hear people tell me how much they love him. I question the mental stability of his fans… there is something missing upstairs with these people…their empathy and ability to relate to people is broken, if they worship such lifeless characters.

    Much like Tyler Perry Madae… I’m simply not wired on the same frequency as people who enjoy Wes Anderson. Literally awful. One of the few people in the world who make me lose all reason and human decency, when I try to critique his art.

  47. Edward Janne permalink
    January 19, 2015 3:12 AM

    Just saw GBH on DirectTV. I’m glad I didn’t shell out 10 bucks to see it on the big screen.

    I watched Moonrise Kingdom in the cinema and found it to be an ok film, and I got ‘something’ from the story, but never really thought it was all that deep or compelling. Whimsical, perhaps, but definitely somewhere between preachy and tiresome. Both it and GBH are kind of like watching two hour sit-coms, … however meticulously (cough::prentiously::cough) shot … in which the writers have grown so tired of writing gaff, that they try to write in some real-life-lesson-ish stuff, but just aren’t very good at it, and just come off as pedantic.

    One thing that really, really bugs me about these films (I haven’t seen any of his others, and don’t think I will) is the cinematography. I can’t sit through so many dead angles. Alright, I get it, the camera work is meant to echo the one-dimensional characters and the rather mechanistic writing. Fine, it’s satirical. Message received. Shot after shot after shot after bloody shot. But, yawwwwwn, already. Actually, I can’t sit through so many cardboard characters, either. It’s the same reason I fell asleep half way through the first season of that completely forgettable TV series, Game of Thrones. No matter how complex you make the plot, if your characters are all flat … snooooooorrrrrrreeee. It’s like watching a Michael Bay film … minus the explosions and robots.

  48. January 25, 2015 12:41 PM

    Thoughts on Anderson from a well-educated, working-class, pastey-faced boomer …

    Certainly I can appreciate the craft underlying Wes Anderson’s films.

    That said, I can think of *no* other film-maker whose works can so readily (and literally) put me to sleep (most recently, I lasted about 45 minutes into GBH). Notwithstanding Anderson’s striking visual style and the appearance of many skilled actors who I’ve enjoyed watching in other films, for me, the whole is profoundly less than the sum of the parts.

    So it goes … .

  49. Harry permalink
    February 14, 2015 2:54 AM

    You’re crazy. You totally misinterpreted those three lines being delivered monotonously. They are not “in fact” supposed to be delivered with passion and conviction they’re read the way Wes meant them to be. It’s called deadpan, after watching most of his movies I’d expect you realized he likes to use a lot of this, it’s a big part of his sense of humor. The humor in those lines is that they would all be shocking to hear for anyone in the room, yet the characters say them so nonchalantly, I guess you missed that. Wes might even be a better writer than director, people seem to misread his style/humor, more so than his aesthetics. It’s subtle humor for the the most part, but it’s fantastic all the same. What do you want, a fuckin’ laugh track!? Lol.

    Also, Wes Anderson doesn’t belong even on the same page as that hack Tyler Perry. The only thing Anderson’s movies repeat is use of the futura font. That vile, talentless, mook Perry repeatedly just makes the same shitty comedy or occasional dramedy with a 90% black cast (aside from there stereotypical dorky white friend characters), that all have nothing to say other than, “White people so crazy”. Yet black people fall for it every time and will go see whatever shit he puts out.

    • February 15, 2015 4:43 PM

      What you think is funny in Wes Anderson films I find bland and listless, except for Fantastic Mr. Fox. And I find it hilarious that you say that about Tyler Perry movies because likewise I feel that Wes’ films are basically saying “White problems so crazy” yet white people fall for it every time and will go see whatever shit he puts out…. 🙂

  50. Jeremy permalink
    February 24, 2015 4:06 PM

    thank god I’m not the only one. wes is so overrated. his movies are really boring and just pretentious. stories are unrealistic, ridiculous, slow, visuals get boring after 5 min. his movies are really a torture. I HATE his movies. only hipsters think he’s cool just because his movies look different. however, there’s no substance.

  51. Dava permalink
    September 7, 2015 1:36 AM

    Personally, I feel like Wes Anderson movies are quirky for the sake of being quirky. Often, it seems as though the quirkiness of characters or situations is pointless. I do not care for his movies but I won’t criticize those who do like them. They just aren’t for me.

  52. holoscene permalink
    October 17, 2015 3:34 AM

    Love the essay, Cinephiliac, and the conversation. I’m with you on Wes, and have spent a decade or so tearing my hair out a couple times a year arguing as a hater with the lovers (whose tastes I otherwise respect in many cases) — trying not to get so nasty and worked up over something I see as fraudulently dull and disaffected in his work. And I don’t think I’m wrong. I think he’s awful. BUT…(and this is less to you and more to many of the commenters who’ve leveled “pretentious” accusations at both Anderson and his fans)… at this point I’m willing to believe there’s something just skilled enough, just standalone enough, just internally consistent enough, just “art” enough in what he’s doing, that people who love him really are authentically, legitimately thrilled. And not just because they’re philistines, or they haven’t gotten out enough, although it’s possible. I’m willing to believe many of them are thrilled just like I’m thrilled by Hawkes, Bergman, Coppola, Solondz, Kubrick, Verhoeven and Waters because something singular and diligent that he does hits them right, time after time. I just don’t like, or possible even “get”, what that thing is. At this point, I’d *like* to believe I just don’t get it. In any case, big props to you for slogging it out with all those hours of watching. I will not do that. There are too many better artists and not enough days to do that. But it’s kind of like you already martyred yourself for that cause so I don’t have to, so sincere thanks!

    • October 20, 2015 8:59 AM

      Hahaha thank you holoscene! I never thought of it as martyrdom but it definitely felt that way at the time. Even still I don’t want to go back and rewatch any of them because the memory is too fresh and I wrote this four years ago! We share the same thoughts, yours more poignantly than mine. Thanks for the comment, hope to hear more from you soon!

  53. Delitt permalink
    January 13, 2016 7:37 AM

    The only thing I love about his films are the visually pleasing set designs. Symmetry is so satisfying–and the freaking colours. I can’t even remember the name of the characters but my eyes are always focused on how much detail he puts in his mise-en-scene.

  54. irem permalink
    January 27, 2016 6:18 PM

    I’m really glad that i finally found something like this post. I have no one to discuss my -not hate but maybe dissatisfaction towards Wes Anderson movies. I kinda like Grand Budapest Hotel but Moonrise Kingdom was the first movie ever that I dozed off in a day time when I’m watching and I wasn’t even sleeping. And I can barely watch the very first scenes of Bottle Rocket. I don’t accept that I don’t “get” the movies because I cannot make bond with characters and story. Besides, i couldn’t enjoy the general environment of the scenes. The unique part of movies are symmetry and colors but they are starting to be ordinary. And also I couldn’t like the lines and relationships between the characters. For example the most unbearable part of Moonrise Kingdom is the scene the children doesn’t talk at all, just looking each other and the gong sounds in every looking. These scenes are not enough for me to like or appreciate a movie.
    So thank you, I’m really glad that someone finally, believe me i searched people who doesn’t like Wes Anderson movies in English and also in my mother tongue and you are the only one, and just wanted to write how grateful I’m not the only one!

    • January 28, 2016 12:22 AM

      That’s so awesome to hear Irem! Thanks for the kind words, it makes my road down the Wes Anderson hole worth it 😉

  55. MattO permalink
    February 11, 2016 10:56 AM

    I’m glad I found this page. I agree with the author, particularly his critique about the flatness of the characters. I remember when Rushmore came out and my friends told me to go see it because it was so awesome. I came away wondering what had happened to my friends’ normally good taste. The film was “cute,” but I don’t pay to watch “cute” movies that leave me feeling as flat as the one-dimensional characters onscreen. I hate gimmicks of any kind, and Anderson’s movies—the few that I’ve seen; I only made it all the way through Rushmore—are just too gimmicky, generally speaking.

  56. Thank you permalink
    February 22, 2016 10:48 PM

    Bravo!! You hit the nail on the head! His characters are the dullest of any film. They are too conceptual and, dare I say, lazy? After our emotionless lines are slowly delivered lets stare at each other while hipster music plays in the background— captured in one continuous camera shot; taken from the front and from far away.

  57. simonh permalink
    August 31, 2016 5:30 PM

    Agree agree agree with all the Wes hate here!
    What is the point of his films? They are empty. They are like low fat food, may look, smell and even taste good, but you know something vital is missing. No soul, no heart.

    What do you think about the recent BBC list that has 3 of his films in ?
    I like a lot of the list. Lynch is my hero, so MD being #1 was great. Though i think It should have been Inland Empire 1 the Md 2!

    But as others have said , great to see I’m not alone. I worry about respected film critics who seem to rate him.

  58. Jacob William permalink
    September 21, 2016 11:28 AM

    Wow, I’ve never encountered anyone who shares my feelings regarding Wes Anderson so precisely. He makes films LOOK great, but as a writer he is absolute shite. I’ve never seen Fantastic Mr Fox so I can’t comment, but I do agree that Rushmore was decent. Mostly because, unlike Royal Tenenbaums or Life Aquatic, it didn’t feel like it was trying to be anything more than a silly comedy. Everything else though you’re absolutely right, it’s flat, uninteresting characters who try to get by on being ‘quirky’, which feels a deliberate and heavy-handed way to compensate for bad script writing. His stories suck, his characters are lame, his attempts at comedy aren’t funny, and his attempts at drama aren’t compelling. He seems to be most popular with neophyte film students and hipsters who largely depend on other people to tell them what’s good.

    Personally I’d love to see him try sticking to directing, and getting more competent people to write his scripts.

    • September 22, 2016 10:32 PM

      Thanks for the comment Jacob. And wow, could you imagine if his imagery was put to good use with a well written story?

Trackbacks

  1. Tiny Furniture and HBO’s “Girls” « The Cinephiliac
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  3. Moonrise Kingdom (2012) | MovieBoozer
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  11. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Matt's Movie Reviews

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