Here's the thing - you either love the quirky, offbeat tone of Wes Anderson's movies or you don't. If you fall into the latter category it's unlikely that The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is going to vastly change your opinions of Anderson and his peculiar world view. But if you're in the mood for a whimsical, surreal comedy with a heart as deep as the ocean, The Life Aquatic is perfect entertainment.
The always excellent Bill Murray plays Steve Zissou, a once world famous oceanographer who finds that the public are growing tired of his badly-made, rambling films. After a jaguar shark kills his best friend, Zissou announces that his final mission will be to track down the beast and kill it. Getting funding and his raggle-taggle crew of misfits together (Willem Dafoe, Noah Taylor, Seu Jorge - all wonderful), Zissou's life is further complicated by the appearance of a pipe smoking pilot (Owen Wilson) claiming to be his son, and a journalist (Cate Blanchett) who is doing a story on the seafarer. Oh, and there's also Zissou's martial woes with his wife (Anjelica Huston), as well as the churlish attentions of a rival oceanographer (Jeff Goldblum).
So fragile that you're convinced that it'll fall asunder at any given moment, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou wheels between farce, comedy and drama with an unmitigated glee. The first movie that Anderson has written without Owen Wilson, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou sees him wandering even further into the realms of imagination than The Royal Tenebaums, but retaining the same charming sense of the absurd. For a film so anchored (sorry) in its own little universe, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou packs a surprisingly emotive punch, especially in the scenes between Murray and a toned down Wilson, while the charmingly skewered story routinely careers off course. Marvellously ridiculous - and that's a compliment.