The Darjeeling Limited


Year 2007

Owen Wilson as  Francis L. Whitman
Adrien Brody   as Peter L. Whitman
Jason Schwartzman   as Jack L. Whitman
Amara Karan as Rita
Bill Murray as The Businessman  
Barbet Schroeder as The Mechanic
Anjelica Huston as Sister Patricia Whitman  
Natalie Portman as Jack's Ex-Girlfriend   
 
Director - Wes Anderson
Screenwriters - Wes Anderson
    Roman Coppola
    Jason Schwartzman

 


Remember Plan 9 from Outer Space? It's a bad movie with a lot of heart. Just like Plan 9, The Darjeeling Limited is so bad, it's likable.

That doesn't mean that I'd wish it on anyone.

The director, Wes Anderson, has made a name for himself by portraying dysfunctional relationships that sort of come together or at least are brought into the light of day. Movies like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums received a lot of critical acclaim. Both were also touted as comedies.

Based on the hype, I watched them both. Although not bad, they weren't comedies unless you think slow moving misery is funny.

I had hoped that the director/screenwriter would expand on the promise he'd shown in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou which managed to be both entertaining and poignant, although it was generally panned by critics.

But, my hopes were dashed. The Darjeeling Limited continued on with the "one thing after another" approach. To make it worse, it can be seen with the short film Hotel Chevalier which is a prelude for one of the The Darjeeling Limited characters. The Hotel Chevalier portion of the film was so dry the sand from the TV scratched my eyes.

An American in Paris is tracked down by his lunatic girlfriend and they have sex. Will they stay together? Is it a pretense? Can anyone act?

After seeing this short, I hoped that the actor (Jason Schwartzman) and actress (Natalie Portman) would not appear in the main film. Well, Jason Schwartzman did. His acting in the main movie was marginally better than the preceding short film.

The plot of The Darjeeling Limited? Three brothers take a train ride in India after the death of their father. Do they do anything interesting? In one scene, they come across three drowning boys. Other than that, they do nothing interesting.

Everyone in the movie is asleep, or at least that how it seemed with all of the guys always trying to be sensitive or female or something. There was a fight scene. I thought everyone was going to cry. A snake got loose on the train. I thought everyone was going to cry. They had dinner together. I thought everyone was going to cry. One of the brothers was mean to his male secretary. I thought everyone was going to cry.

Crying just seemed to be a good idea. Not out of anger or feeling any emotion, but just as a way of escaping from having to acknowledge life.

When Owen Wilson is the most keyed up, edgy character, you know you've got problems. He was the only one who even came close to being Mister Wild Abandon. He makes stoners Cheech and Chong look like they're hyperactive. If you hit Owen Wilson in the foot with a ball peen hammer he could almost act like he feels pain. And he's the wild one in this movie!

To be fair, his charisma only has to be more engaging than the sleep walking Adrien Brody and the comatose Jason Schwartzman for him to stand out.

The use of pure color in the movie is nice. Blues are definitely blue, whether they're the color of a wall or a train.

Also, the music isn't bad. I've always like the Kinks album "Lola Versus Powerman and the Money-Go-Round" and there are frequent snippets of the music on this album. Not any actual samples since the snippets are all covers. So, we miss out on hearing the distinct, albeit whiny, voice of Ray Davies. To whomever did the covers - You, sir, are no Ray Davies.

One other good thing about the movie is the fact that there are two scenes featuring Bill Murray. He's just got two cameo shots and one or two lines, but compared to everyone else in the movie, he's memorable.

Speaking of Bill Murray, if you want to see a slow paced film that's entertaining and even has a note of hope at the end, check out "Groundhog Day" and leave the The Darjeeling Limited alone. The The Darjeeling Limited doesn't bite, it sort of slobbers. Too bad it wasn't literally a train made out of tea.


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