Life of one sort imitates life of another. And while it’s busy being all imitate-y, art sneaks up behind it and makes fun of it. Good art does, anyway. Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and his team of oceanic documentarians, resplendent in their matching red stocking caps and sea-blue jump-suits, reflect what they see as they observe the life swimming around them. They dance, easily as colorful as the fantastic, imaginary, sea creatures that dot this movie with a casual disregard for taxonomy, in rituals as confounding as they are informed by their own curious drives and desires. The humans in this movie have been cast adrift and cope by following patterns unique to their genus or phylum. When they bump into other groups, the result – as in the “wild kingdom” – is usually violence. Or sex. Really, they are doing the best that they can.
Bill Murray is perfect. It seems to be becoming a habit with him. The Wilson brother (I mix up the first names) is exactly right. Angelica Huston, Willem Dafoe (comic scene-stealer? What the fuck?!), Kate Blanchett, et al, revolve with balletic ease throughout Alpa-Steve’s pack of fish-people with exactly the sort of understated expertise that you would have bet your bottom dollar on. The casting odds (casting odds) were definitely in director Wes Anderson’s favor, and he didn’t fuck with a sure thing.
Most importantly, this movie completely J’s parents. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. I had to chuckle a few nights later when they rented “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” looking for something “funnier.”