While we were looking at a few galleries of costumes this past Halloween, we noticed a few folks dressed as Team Zissou from THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH TEAM ZISSOU. This made us happy, because it shows that this is well on its way to being a cult movie. We’ve mentioned how much we love it a few times here at The Beat, but just for the record, we love it. Like many movies that combine drollery with adventure for satire — think STARSHIP TROOPERS — THE LIFE AQUATIC has been greatly misunderstood, and it’s a real love it or hate it proposition. It’s awesome reading the comments at IMDb:
This movie was not funny. It was not interesting. The characters were not believable. The effects weren’t very special. The script is one which should never have been read and accepted by anyone other than actors who are desperate for work. No producer in his right mind should have thrown away money on this project. My wife gave up and went to bed after the first 35 minutes. I stopped watching after the first hour. After Lost In Translation and this dud…it will be a long time before I watch anything else with Bill Murray in it. Big surprise…even with a meager $25 million budget the movie couldn’t break even at the box office.
Page after page of people who can’t accept magic realism.
In case you have never seen THE LIFE AQUATIC, it follows Steve Zissou, a Jacques Cousteau-like oceaongrapher, played by Bill Murray, as he makes a new movie. The movie is about Zissou”s quest for the great leopard shark that ate his long time partner Esteban. In his quest Zissou is accompanied by team Zissou, a ragtag bunch of multi-national divers/movie makers played by folks like Willem Dafoe and Noah Taylor; a fellow named Ned Plimpton, played by Owen Wilson, who may be Zissou’s illegitimate son by a long ago tryst, and a nosy reporter, played by Cate Blanchett, who was five months pregnant when she filmed the movie — so her character is, too. There’s also Steve’s estranged wife, played by Anjelica Huston, who is the brains of the outfit, and a bond company stooge (Bud Cort) and an arch-enemy (Jeff Goldblum) and pirates and a three-legged dog and much more.
The movie has laughs, adventure, turtles and tragedy. The score is by Mark Mothersbaugh, although another character spends the movie singing David Bowie songs in Portuguese. Henry Selick contributed some random and bizarre animations. The last shot of the film is a direct homage the the ending of BUCKAROO BANZAI, so you know I loved that.
Anyway, it seems you can still buy some Team Zissou merch on the web– t-shirts and the like. For myself, I would most like the Hotel Citroen t-shirt, the long ago logo of a one time four star resort destroyed in a monsoon on the far off Ping Islands, according to the film. THE LIFE AQUATIC is mostly about growing older, and not living up to your legend, but then finding out you don’t have to if you find something you really love doing. It’s a very sweet movie that I can watch over and over again, and I’m glad there are other Team Zissou cultists out there, too.