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"The Darjeeling Limited"

Directed by Wes Anderson.
Written by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman.
Starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman.

Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  10/2/07


I know that we, as film-loving cineastes, are supposed to love everything that Wes Anderson and his films stand for.  However, I typically have gone against this because 1) the first Wes Anderson film I saw was "Rushmore", and everything else he's done hasn't been as good as "Rushmore", and 2) no matter how much I love the visuals of all of Anderson's films, even I have to admit that the stories have never been out of this world great.

So, for Anderson's latest venture, I was thrilled to have the chance to see this with my biggest Anderson fanatic friend, Mike "Yac" Iacovone, who loves all of Anderson's films and showed up nearly three hours early for the free showing tonight of "The Darjeeling Limited."  After the smoke cleared and the credits finished rolling tonight, even Yac had to admit:

"Well, let's just say it's not my new favorite Wes Anderson film."

Let me put it another way--as much as I thought "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" was uneven, and that "Bottle Rocket" wasn't nearly as good as advertised, I liked both of those films better than I liked "The Darjeeling Limited."  Why is that?  At the end of the day, this new flick isn't very funny, isn't that insightful overall, and is just, well, boring for long stretches of its scant 91-minute running time.  In fact, I almost fell asleep at least twice during this movie.

And, this is disappointing, because I was intrigued by the premise--three brothers (played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) go to India to reconnect as family while each man negotiates through his own personal crisis in their own way.  And, they do this on a train ride--The Darjeeling Limited--mending the trust issues they have with each other and getting into minor bits of trouble during their stay.  And then, they get off the train...and, some more stuff happens...and then, they get onto another train.


But, wow, this movie overpromised and underdelivered in a big way for me.  Cameos by Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Anjelica Huston don't work.  The laughs, in general, never really came (and as one of Mike's friends said, there are never belly laughs in Anderson films, just consistent chuckles throughout).  The film's best moment comes soon after the boys get off the train, but this is mishandled somehow, be it execution or not fully flushing out the emotional impact of what happens during this scene...even now, I don't know why this bit is wrong, but it's wrong, that's for sure.  The soundtrack is fantastic and once again, the look of Anderson's film is creative, lively and occasionally beautiful.  But why does this script blow?

Here's one guess--normal Anderson writing collaborator Wilson didn't help write this script, which maybe left some laughs at the door in a film that badly needs them; maybe it's the mix of the three stars we have here (I thought the three worked well, but some others in Mike's group didn't think they worked at all).  For whatever reason, "The Darjeeling Limited" left me very disappointed and I don't think a second viewing of this film will warm it up for me.  At all!

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09