Review: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)


Absurd be thy name!

Written By: Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach
Directed By: Wes Anderson

I shied away from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou for quite some time because I didn’t then and still haven’t today heard one positive review of the film. I was told it was self-indulgent, full of itself, too broad, stupid, meandering, and so on and so forth. As much as I like, not love, Wes Anderson and do love Bill Murray I avoided The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou because I figured it wasn’t worth the effort. Boy, was I ever wrong. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is possibly the most absurd movie I have ever seen, but it is also an excellent movie.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is funny throughout, even in the moments where you don’t think it can be funny. I found myself having to stop the DVR because I was laughing so hard during the scene where the Zissou crew storms the abandoned hotel. This is also quite a dark film, its comedy isn’t broad; it’s just from a deeply hidden place. It’s funny not because you can relate to any of the characters, but because you can’t relate to them at all. Yes, Steve Zissou is clearly going through a mid-life crisis so you can relate to him on that level. But, he’s also searching for a jaguar shark so he can blow it up with dynamite and avenge the death of his friend. If someone can relate to that then you live a much more fascinating life than I. It is in the movies inability to relate to the viewer that the absurd nature of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou comes alive. If it were a movie that was grounded in reality for even a second then it wouldn’t be a movie I would want to watch.

The only real negative in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou would be that it does from time to time meander, so the reviews were right about that. It did break its own momentum a bit too much by not staying with whatever tangent it was on. But, even that added to the quirkiness and awkward nature of the film so I am more than forgiving for any momentum gaffes.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou isn’t for everyone, but I would recommend it to anyone. Maybe you will like it, maybe you won’t. It is the type of film that is polarizing by its very nature, but I don’t see any way that I can’t recommend a film that features spotting dolphins that don’t spot a thing or a ship where you can call dibs on the pregnant reporter. But, more than anything I want my Team Zissou Adidas, stat!



Bill Thompson

2 responses to “Review: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

  1. THIS IS MY FAVORITE MOVIE EVER, thanks for the positive review, its insane how many critics dislike this film, I really question their knowledge on film.

  2. Well, I wouldn’t question their knowledge. They had a different take than you, but that doesn’t take away at all from how much you love the film.

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