directed by Wes Anderson
U.S.A. 19
96

Expanded from a 13 minute short subject film, "Bottle Rocket" is not  factually based, but it does reflect many experiences that occurred to director/writer Wes Anderson and actor/writer Owen C. Wilson when they were roommates at The University of Texas.

The story, shot in Dallas, Fort Worth and Hillsboro, involves three young, socially gullible friends, who, with loyal bonds and unequivocal acceptance, display an innocent, influential nature towards each other. Unstructured, they are each attempting to ascertain their appropriate place in society and are comically drawn to the romanticism and clandestine world of crime through their irrepressible leader's fantasy vision.

"We always wanted to name it after fireworks and Bottle Rocket seemed appropriate," said Anderson in an interview. "Bottle rockets are these dinky, cheap fireworks that explode but are illegal because they're so hard to control and are so poorly made. They are the kind of thing that could catch a garage on fire but a neighbor with a garden hose could put it out."

Bottle Rocket

by Wes Anderson

Review of the film by Gary W. Tooze

It starts with Anthony (Luke Wilson) who has discharged himself from a mental hospital where he voluntarily entered to be treated for "exhaustion". We see the first structure of the nature of his friendship with the pseudo-mastermind Dignan, alias Jerry (played by Owen Wilson) as he spoon feeds the fantasies of his friend by pretending to escape the institution by climbing down a knotted bed sheet from the 2nd story window.

For myself, probably the funniest commentary of the film is to the extent how people are constantly fooling themselves, visualizing circumstances extremely different from what they really are... all to help feed there own illusions. The friendships are so strong that regardless of the truth, these pretenses are backed up by each of them.

All three Wilson brothers play characters in the film, and extremely well; Owen Wilson as master optimist and dreamer Dignan, and his real-life brother Luke Wilson as Anthony, and Andrew Wilson, who plays "Future Man", their friend Bob's bullying older brother .

 [pointing to Bob] He's out. [pointing to Anthony] And you're out, too. And I don't think I'm in, either. No gang! [walking away shaking his head]
 

"Bob's Gone !!!.. and he stole his car"
"Dynamite, Pole Vaulting, Laughing Gas, Choppers, Hang Gilding"

 

 

In the end its plain to see that each character has received exactly what they had been seeking throughout the film. Anthony finds true love with a Guatemalan maid named Inez. Bob has started a more brotherly relationship with his tough sibling and Dignan is behind bars... content to feel he is respected as a full-fledged criminal now.

The film is strongly character driven with subtle writing and hilarious vignettes sparking the careers of both director Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) and actor Owen Wilson (Shanghai Noon, Meet The Parents).

Bottle Rocket is very enjoyable, even more-so on repeat viewings. The innocence of both its characters and its initial production shine through making it a memorable hit. out of

 

Posters

Theatrical Release Date: February 25th, 1996

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DVD Comparison:

Sony -  Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion (2-disc Special Edition) -  Region 1 - NTSC

(Sony - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Sony - Region 1 - NTSC  Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Spine # 450 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:31:15   1:31:30  
Video

1.85:1.00 Original Aspect Ratio

Bit-rate: 5.91 bps
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1.00 Original Aspect Ratio

Bit-rate: 8.98 bps
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), DUB: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles English, Spanish, None English, None
 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bit-rate: Original

 

Bit-rate: Centennial

 

Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony
Pictures

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• CPan and Scan 1.33:1 version on opposite side

DVD Release Date:  December 22nd, 1998
Keep Case
Chapters: 28

Release Information:
DVD Production:
Criterion

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Edition Details:
Audio commentary featuring Anderson and co-writer/actor Owen Wilson

Disc 2
The Making of "Bottle Rocket": an original documentary by filmmaker Barry Braverman featuring Anderson, producer James L. Brooks, actors James Caan and Luke and Owen Wilson, and others
The original thirteen-minute black-and-white Bottle Rocket short film from 1992
Eleven deleted scenes
Anamorphic test, storyboards, location photos
Behind-the-scenes photographs by Laura Wilson
The Shafrazi Lectures, No. 1: Bottle Rocket
Murita Cycles, a 1978 short film by Braverman
PLUS: A booklet featuring an appreciation by Martin Scorsese and an essay by Brooks
Original artwork by Ian Dingman

 

DVD Release Date:  November 25th, 2008
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Comments:

The dual-layered Criterion image easily bests the single-layered Sony (originally Columbia Tri-Star) which has many artifacts and digital noise. The Criterion colors are sometimes quite different and detail is dramatically improved. Both transfers are anamorphic and progressive but Criterion are able to advertise that theirs is 'Supervised and approved by director Wes Anderson and director of photography Robert Yeoman.' The Criterion is brighter and shows more information in the frame - especially the side edges. We wait with great anticipation to the eventual Criterion Blu-ray (at the same cost - due out on December 16th, 2008) but for those who have not taken the HD-step this SD transfer won't disappoint.

NOTE: The older Sony edition has a cropped 1.33:1 version on the opposite side of the disc.

Although advertised as 'DTS' on the Criterion website I believe they are referring to the Blu-ray which will be a DTS-HD Master track. Still the 5.1 sounds sharp and accompanies the excellent image adeptly. The Criterion offers English subtitles - more complete than the decade-old Sonys' (see samples below). 

Extras on the Criterion are fabulous - we get an audio commentary featuring Anderson and co-writer/actor Owen Wilson - recorded for Criterion in 2008. I haven't had a chance to get through all of it but am loving it so far - anecdotes and memories - delightful. On a second disc (also dual-layered) we get a 25 minute The Making of "Bottle Rocket". This is an original documentary by filmmaker Barry Braverman featuring Anderson, producer James L. Brooks, actors James Caan and Luke and Owen Wilson, and others. I was very keen to see the original thirteen-minute black-and-white treatise Bottle Rocket short film from 1992 - a great inclusion! There are eleven deleted scenes - each about 1.5-2 minutes long last 27 minutes in total. Amusing stuff but, for the most part, their exclusion was the right choice in my opinion. It was cool to see the anamorphic test with the 2.35 Panavision widescreen (originally intended for the film). There are some storyboards and behind-the-scenes photographs by Laura Wilson (Owen's Mom). It doesn't end there - we have 10 minutes of The Shafrazi Lectures, No. 1: Bottle Rocket (kinda strange) Murita Cycles, a 1978 27-minute film by Braverman - noted as a friend and collaborator of Wes Anderson. Finally a 24-page liner notes booklet featuring an appreciation by Martin Scorsese and an essay by Brooks and some original artwork by Ian Dingman. Great stuff for the die-hard fans...

I really enjoy this film and have seen it at least 6 times - this Criterion DVD is a breath of fresh air and the extras are like food to a starving man. Although I can't wait to add the Blu-ray to this comparison I am thrilled with this SD. Strongly recommended! 

Gary W. Tooze

DVD Menus

(Sony - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

 

Criterion Disc 2 Special Edition

 


Subtitle Sample - not exact frame!

 

 

Screen Captures

 

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(Sony - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 


(Sony - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Sony - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 (Sony - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion (Special Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 


 

 

 

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Sony - Region 1 - NTSC  Criterion - 2-disc Special Edition - Spine # 450 - Region 1 - NTSC

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