The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

I don't know why but The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou has always been the Wes Anderson movie that appealed me the least. Even though I had never seen it, there was something about it that just didn't click with me. I feel exactly the same now that I've seen it. 

The film follows Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), a famous oceanographer who, after losing his closest friend and colleague, Esteban, to a probably non-existent Jaguar Shark, sets out on a voyage with Team Zissou, which includes his estranged wife, Eleanor (Anjelica Huston), Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson), a man who may or may not be his son, and a pregnant journalist (Cate Blanchett), to hunt down the mythical creature. 

As you can probably tell, it's another of Anderson's bizarre and quirky stories, only this time it didn't really work for me, the reason being the many confused and unexplained subplots and the pacing that just drags the story and makes the plot kinda boring and uninteresting. Which is a huge shame as The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is more plot-driven than your typical Anderson movie. 

As usual, the film is filled with quirky characters, but there's a problem with them too. First, they don't have much of an inner struggle but more of outside complications; second, they aren't even that likeable as they are pretty cruel and cold, and lack of charm. 

In spite of it, the cast still manages to do a pretty good job. Bill Murray is excellent as usual as the washed-up sea adventurer Zissou and makes a very good pair with Owen Wilson who does very good as Zissou's son(?); Cate Blanchett also does a good job as the journalist. The standout, however, is Willem Dafoe as he gives a very funny performance as Zissou's eccentric German servant. 

Buena Vista Pictures

There's also another issue with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Anderson just doesn't seem to be able to find a balance between tragedy and comedy, and the film kind of fails at both, with the drama barely working and the humour working half of the time.

Ultimately, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is Anderson's weakest film but it's still a good-ish film with stunning visuals and a great soundtrack.


  1. This one didn't work for me either. I liked it even less than you. In fact, I hated it. It bored me to death, and just like you, I didn't like anyone on the screen. However, it was my first Wes Anderson film and I watched at a time when I had just started venturing away from action, horror, and conventional comedy. Therefore, it's one I want to revisit to see if I still feel the same way. Just haven't worked up the courage to so, yet.

    1. I really hope you'll enjoy it more one a second watch. I'm not sure about it though as I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel when all I watched was pretty much action flicks, rom-coms and sci-fi movies and I loved it. It's easily and simply Anderson's weakest movie in my opinion.

  2. Yeah, this is often regarded as Anderson's weakest film as it was the first film he did that he didn't write with Owen Wilson as he wrote it with Noah Baumbach. If you watched the documentary on the making of the film, you're going to get a headache into everything Anderson was trying to do where he did go over his head with that film even though I still enjoyed it. At least you liked Willem Dafoe as Klaus is my favorite character in that film.

    1. Oh yes! Dafoe was amazing! I haven't seen the documentary and I'm not sure I want to see it. Not ready for a headache haha