A friend of mine, a fellow movie fanatic, recently instant messaged "I don't get what you see in Wes Anderson." The Onion took a shot at him. And the New York Magazine noted that Life Aquatic "was seen as a beautiful failure, a study in style stripped of substance." All of this comes on the eve of his release Darjeeling Limited making around eighty bucks at the box office. So my question to you, dear reader, is why? Why exactly is Wes Anderson catching so much flack these days?
Actually I know why, it's because he's performed the trick of being well known while also financially unsuccessful. This has placed a giant target on him, because we writers like nothing better than an easy argument. "Wes Anderson, he's overrated!" the headlines trumpet. And then it becomes a mantra of the masses, many of whom haven't even seen a Wes Anderson film. Well, I'm here to refute this argument fully my fellow people of the universe. I feel this line of thought is a total frickin' rip-off and it makes our world a little worse for believing in it. So let's all get on board here. Wes Anderson is where it's at. He's the most. Obey.
The reason Wes Anderson is worthy of our adoration, and our moviegoing dollar, is that he's unlike anything else out there. Okay, that alone isn't enough. Third world dictators are theoretically different too. But Wes throws in innovation, music, and a completely different look at the world. And these are reasons to support him. All great art must be evolutionary and somewhat misunderstood and that's Wes Anderson for you. Take a look at this oddball American Express Commercial he filmed:
See? Wes all at once mocks the notion of how easy making a film is while showing off how broad the scope of his ideas are. Anderson isn't afraid to poke at an audience, he's comfortable with the uncomfortable, and he doesn't make films that give you easy answers. Most of the characters in Anderson's films are searching for something to make them complete, and their journey is a mournful one. But somewhere in there they find laughs, or a hopeful embrace. Wes' message, if you can filter out the things not immediately apparent, is that life is complicated. It's wonderful yet cruel. It's loving but demeaning. The message is complexity, and that's a beautiful thing because it requires audience interaction. It requires us to think. And what's so bad about that?
Look, in a 100 years no one will be talking about Transformers. By then the robots will have taken over so Mike Bay will be seen as hopelessly anachronistic. But Wes Anderson's films will stand the test of time because they're about relationships and a way of looking at life. Melancholy? Sure. Sarcastic and sardonic? Absolutely. But worthwhile and pretty in their own way. So, if overrating a filmmaker like Wes is what it takes for me to get other directors willing to try something new, I'm on board. I'm with it. Because in the land of Hollywood average trying for something grand, even if you occasionally miss, is worth our adoration.