He writes scenes as if he were trying to reproduce the sophisticated drollery of a New Yorker cartoon. When Steve apologises to his wife by saying, "I know I haven't been at my best this past decade", one can almost hear the civilised accent of Upper East Side ennui. Again, when he introduces Ned to an associate at a party, he says, "Oh, this is probably my son Ned", somehow packing too much information - and not nearly enough - into a single sentence. Cate Blanchett as a jolly-hockey-sticks English reporter is awarded the verbal tic of not being able to swear: she only "effs".The same mannerism infects the look. Anderson loves posed symmetries and tableaux; images that look like promotional material, such as the film's poster-shot of the whole cast ranged around Murray in the window of a submersible, actually occur in the movie.
Instead of the camera snaking through the boat's corridors and cabins, we are invited to gaze upon the vessel in a cartoonish cross-section. Henry Selick's exotic CGI creatures of the deep, including a 70ft spotted shark, simply enhance the hallucinatory atmosphere. (Steve is a committed dope-head, which might explain something.)Conversations burble on in a cabin while a whale noses past a porthole in the background. Anderson, in his mid-thirties, retains an incorrigibly boyish streak, not only in his penchant for daft headgear - the knitted scarlet caps worn by Team Zissou chime with Jason Schwartzmann's beret in Rushmore and Luke Wilson's headband in Tenenbaums - but also in absurd bouts of piratical violence.How much of this will work for you depends on your appetite for the picturesquely dysfunctional. Certainly, Anderson has hit upon a style - aloof, watchful, nutty as a fruitcake - that is quite different from any other film-maker, which of itself merits our admiration. That he has also managed to secure studio backing for this latest outlandish venture (think Moby Dick re-imagined as a comedy of unhappy families, with Murray as an impassive Ahab) deserves a 21-popgun salute All I could wish is that I enjoyed it more. So much of it seems to breathe the air of a private amusement that you wonder if Anderson conceived it for an audience at all; his films, like Peter Greenaway's, are playful and intricate but almost absent of feeling and drama.
There are many times in The Life Aquatic when you find yourself nodding at a line and thinking "how clever" or "how droll", but hardly ever "how touching".. Director Paul Weitz, acclaimed for his adaptation of About A Boy, betters it here with a comedy of corporate and familial tension that feels like a throwback to the playfulness of the Sixties - in a good way. In Good Company (PG) Director Paul Weitz, acclaimed for his adaptation of About A Boy, betters it here with a comedy of corporate and familial tension that feels like a throwback to the playfulness of the Sixties - in a good way.Dennis Quaid plays nice-guy Dan who, as head of ad sales at the weekly Sports America, finds himself suddenly demoted in a company shake-up. His replacement, a 26-year-old superbrat named Carter (Topher Grace), has energy to burn but no friends, and he gets off to bad start by patronisingly offering Dan a role as his sidekick.