Once again, he creates a hermetic, glassed-in movie world of postmodern anachronisms that charms and distances in equal measure.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
I should have been completely exasperated with The Life Aquatic, with its wispy story and wonder-cabinet production design, but to my surprise I found it mostly delightful.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
Its sporadic droll moments tempt one to view it with a charitable eye until patience is exhausted by the end.
Mike Clark - USA Today
Stephen Hunter - Washington Post
Hovers frustratingly somewhere between charming and only mildly amusing.
Desson Thomson - Washington Post
The film's meta-fey title alone is an example of why some people adore Anderson and why he drives others absolutely crazy.
Ty Burr - Boston Globe
It's a collage of half-measures.
Michael Atkinson - Village Voice
If there's anything more tiresome in film today than hip irony, it is forced irony, and here comes a boatload.
Jack Mathews - New York Daily News
Dean Essner - Houston Chronicle
Stocked with colorful characters, episodic wit and well-placed pop tunes, Aquatic stays funny even as it flails about at sea.
Chris Vognar - Dallas Morning News
At times arrogant, furious, ridiculous and mopey, in the end, Steve Zissou carries The Life Aquatic with an understated grace.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
It is heartening to reflect that the best of Bill Murray may be yet to come.
Anthony Lane - New Yorker
I can't recommend it, but I would not for one second discourage you from seeing it.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Despite its cast and director, it's an amazingly unfunny movie, drowned in its own conceits, half-strangled by the tongue so obtrusively in its cheek.
Michael Wilmington - Chicago Tribune
The Life Aquatic is full of moments of strange tranquility and screwball juxtaposition.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
With his perpetually slumped shoulders and downcast eyes, Murray nails his character's weariness; you feel tired just looking at him. But lethargy is not necessarily something you want in an audience, and eventually the movie starts to seem fatigued.
Jeff Strickler - Minneapolis Star Tribune
A ruse of a film that doesn't have a tenth of the wit it thinks it has.
Tom Long - Detroit News
It's too fragmented, lacks pace and is filled with so many eccentricities that it's hard to discern the point, if Anderson is even trying to make one. But watching Anderson fail is still more rewarding that watching other filmmakers succeed.
Bill Muller - Arizona Republic
A little too laid-back for its own good.
Andrew Sarris - New York Observer
The effect is often soporific.
Robert Koehler - Variety
Intermittently brilliant, intermittently hilarious -- and occasionally tedious.
Lou Lumenick - New York Post
The whimsy feels forced, and Murray is the only player allowed to hunt for laughs. More Goldblum would have helped. Wilson acts overshadowed, Dafoe has too little screen time and Blanchett is only a middling straight man.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
It's one of the great mysteries of contemporary Hollywood that a talent as sideways as Wes Anderson gets bankrolled by a major, and not famously risky, studio like Disney.
Geoff Pevere - Toronto Star
The Life Aquatic is a movie deeply immersed in movie lore, and the more seasoned the swimmer the richer the experience.
Rick Groen - Globe and Mail
The story (written by Anderson and Noah Baumbach) meanders in such a meaningless way that the visual details, as carefully wrought as they are, come off as mere props.
Stephanie Zacharek - Salon.com
Why is it that so many people think this filmmaker is the voice of their generation? Is their generation that vacuous?
David Edelstein - Slate
There's not a convincing character to be found, and none of the film's dramatic scenes or emotional catharses have the ring of truth necessary for us to be affected.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
Wonderfully weird and wistful.
Sheri Linden - Hollywood Reporter
Anderson holds steady to the delicate emotions that run beneath this stormy comedy of betrayal, death and forgiveness.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
An exquisitely evocative movie that elevates rueful melancholia to a superpower.
Carina Chocano - Los Angeles Times
Nell Minow - Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies
Nick Nunziata - CHUD
Kit Bowen - Hollywood.com
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
Joe Lozito - Big Picture Big Sound
Wes Anderson creates a highly stylized and peculiar world, which either works for you or it doesn't. It works for me beautifully...
Rob Gonsalves - eFilmCritic.com
full review in Greek
Joseph Proimakis - Movies for the Masses
A film I'll be able to return in years hence and have lovely waves of happiness wash over me.
Dan Jardine - Cinemania
Dean Essner - Time Out
Dean Essner - Empire Magazine
Dean Essner - Film Threat
Dean Essner - AV Club
magnificent display of talents not weaved into coherent story
Dragan Antulov - Draxblog Movie Reviews
Has a quiet comical edginess that reflects the poignancy of the situation and the characters.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Dean Essner - Bullz-Eye.com
Expect the absurd, the bizarre, the sweet, and the occasionally surreal, and you'll probably have a darn good time with The Life Aquatic.
Scott Weinberg - DVD Clinic
Rumsey Taylor - Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Dean Essner - Sydney Morning Herald
Suggests that Wes Anderson may have become too immersed in his own meticulous and idiosyncratic world to quite realize that he's left ours far behind.
Todd Gilchrist - FilmStew.com
Funny, gorgeous, and touching in spurts.
Nick Schager - Lessons of Darkness
There is a distinct sense that Anderson is trying to re-invent himself with this film.
Derek Smith - Cinematic Reflections
Kudos for tone and flavor, but if you take the meat of something we aren't inclined to eat, all the best seasonings in the world won't save it.
Karina Montgomery - Cinerina
The film's storyline plays out as a comic riff on Moby-Dick, which is hilarious if you're on Anderson's wavelength but will probably bore to tears those who aren't.
Mark Pfeiffer - Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Jonathan Romney - Independent
Ethan Alter - NYC Film Critic
Anderson's ability to deftly flip between whimsy and sentiment remains intact.
Shay Casey - FilmFocus
Michelle Thomas - Future Movies UK
Stylish, quirky, enjoyable comedy-drama, with a superb ensemble cast and a terrific soundtrack - this is a treat for fans of Anderson's work, although the uninitiated may be less impressed.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Dean Essner - BBC
Anton Bitel - Movie Gazette
Well, this is a painful review to write. The film is a mess. The really odd occurrences are just that...odd. They have no resonance.
Widgett Walls - Needcoffee.com
There was some great action and some funny bits but I found this film a little too strange for my taste.
Vince Koehler - Entertainment Spectrum
I guess I was just in the mood for (Wes Anderson's) latest offering, "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou."
Tony Toscano - Talking Pictures (U.S.)
JoBlo - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Wes Anderson's most self-conscious movie to date. It's also his worst.
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Almost entirely whimsical. It bears little resemblance to reality, well, maybe Hollywood reality ...
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
I think it's the closest thing to a new millennium BUCKAROO BANZAI that we'll ever see.
Luke Y. Thompson - LYTRules.com
Dean Essner - Baltimore Sun
It's a beautiful picture to look at, as all of his films are, but good use of color and mixing up your film stock do not a classic make.
Pete Vonder Haar - Film Threat
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
I admired it more than I liked it, and there was a lot about it that I didn't even admire.
Michael W. Phillips, Jr. - Goatdog's Movies
The movie's driving force is Anderson's signature sense of humor. The underlying (and unspoken) joke of this oddball farce is that it is transparently fake.
Rob Blackwelder - SPLICEDWire
Entertaining enough to earn a recommendation as a light piece of eye candy
Marty Mapes - Movie Habit
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Kimberley Jones - Austin Chronicle
Emily Blunt - Blunt Review
all of Anderson's offbeat cinematic ingenuity can't disguise the fact (or is maybe the reason) that The Life Aquatic just doesn't have much going for it emotionally
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
An interesting, but not entirely entertaining film.
Audrey Rock-Richardson - Tooele Transcript-Bulletin (Utah)
Anderson has balanced what's funny about his concept with a generous number of jokes on-screen... It makes me expectant again.
Jake Euker - F5 (Wichita, KS)
If you like Murray, and you can savor the concept of a movie that could be a bulked-up version of one of his old Saturday Night Live skits, you will likely like the film.
David Elliott - San Diego Union-Tribune
A unique achievement.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
It is messy, perplexing and weird, but in a good way.
Margaret A. McGurk - Cincinnati Enquirer
[Wes Anderson] fourth and most elaborate film fits no genre and defies quick summary.
Bob Ross - Tampa Tribune
The film is often quite funny.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
Director Wes Anderson's best work to date.
Forrest Hartman - Reno Gazette-Journal
Say what you will about the film but it's not cookie cutter. It finds its own rhythm to march to. The Life Aquatic surprised me every few minutes.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
What peculiar cinema of the sea Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is.
John Wirt - Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
The movie, well, it stinks like a rotting beached whale.
Andrew Griffin - Town Talk (Alexandria, LA)
Might have worked better as an amusing diversion, but Anderson is clearly trying for more. He's tried too hard.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
Quirky and oftentimes absurd, The Life Aquatic is an action comedy of misfit proportions.
Mark Sells - Oregon Herald
...about another Anderson dreamer whose ambitions far exceed any real talent.
Josh Larsen - Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
'...the plot is off kilter, the wit is as dry as a James Bond martini, and all the characters are wacky.'
Lori Hoffman - Atlantic City Weekly
The audacity of The Life Aquatic is in director Wes Anderson stepping through fashionable attitude and into human essence.
Mark Palermo - Coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Though it looks like a Wes Anderson film, it doesn't feel like one.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Stubbornly devoted to Wes Anderson's precociously detailed and miniature worldview but still one-of-a-kind.
Nathaniel Rogers - Film Experience
Anderson's latest endeavour will have you yawning from start to finish.**
Angela Baldassarre - Sympatico.ca
With or without Steve Zissou, Anderson's disaster can now be mentioned with the Titanic, Cutthroat Island and the Exxon Valdez.
Thomas Delapa - Boulder Weekly
A take off on Jacques Cousteau's life that never takes off
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
Your whimsy tolerance will be tested.
Boo Allen - Denton Record Chronicle (TX)
(Bill) Murray's blank stare might be because there's nothing he can do to improve things. Usually it's a device he uses to accent eccentricity.
Larry Ratliff - San Antonio Express-News
If Anderson can ever focus on actually making a MOVIE -- instead of proving how zany he is -- the man may create something of lasting value.
Jon Niccum - Lawrence Journal-World
...The Life Aquatic stirs up some sugary silt at the bottom of your gut.
Philip Martin - Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Zissou is the latest manifestation of the character that anchors all of Anderson's films -- the mournful king who realizes his kingdom is slipping away.
Jeffrey Overstreet - Christianity Today
All you need to join Team Zissou is a red knit cap, a blue Speedo, and apparently, a bad sense of humor... The comedy is so subtle, it's easy to miss completely.
Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone - TheMovieChicks.com
Do you ever feel like everyone but you is in on the joke?
Rebecca Murray - About.com
It hearkens back nicely to Rushmore...
Brent Simon - Now Playing Magazine
Lacks the energy and snap of previous Anderson films, but as Bill Murray says about a jaguar shark: 'It's pretty good, isn't it?'
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Any movie confident enough to end with the cast jauntily walking down the street (a la Buckaroo Banzai) is worth a look.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
Full of [Wes Anderson's] many trademark flourishes.
(CNN.com) Paul Clinton - CNN.com
Steven Snyder - Zertinet Movies
...has an uneven tone and an erratic rhythm that might have been grating were it not for the anchoring performances of Murray and Wilson... and the consistent looniness...
James Sanford - Kalamazoo Gazette
Dean Essner - Boston Phoenix
Who cares? This is boring. The actors are clearly bored and it's hard enough to stay awake. Don't bother.
Eric Lurio - Greenwich Village Gazette
Paul Clinton (CNN.com) - CNN.com
Robert Wilonsky - Dallas Observer
Dean Essner - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
If you've disliked [Anderson's] other films, there's no reason to check this one out. If you're a fan, this may prove to be the acid test.
Daniel M. Kimmel - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Murray's deadpan presence holds it all together. Like France's Jacques Tati, he's a master of minimalist angst and perfect straight man to a darkly comic world and Anderson keeps him skillfully positioned at the eye of the storm.
William Arnold - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The visuals are all there -- if films got prizes for best poster, this one would be a shoo-in. But story, heart and purpose all seem to be lost at sea.
Mary F. Pols - Contra Costa Times
Vastly disappointing, an uneasy mixture of characters and events, artifice and realism.
Robert Denerstein - Denver Rocky Mountain News
The Life Aquatic is Anderson's least interesting film, and should serve as a demonstration of the vapidity of his so-called brilliance.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
There is a charming 90-minute comedy somewhere in Life Aquatic, but the extra 30 or so minutes in this version point out just how self-indulgent Anderson is becoming.
Louis B. Hobson - Jam! Movies
For a while, Life Aquatic gets mileage out of its quirkiness and the promise that a real plot will kick in. But it's not to be, and for most of the film's second half it feels like Anderson and his characters are treading water.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
There are rewards if you make the effort to understand what Anderson and co-screenwriter Noah Baumbach are trying to say, and at times The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is weird, wild and wonderful.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Murray's deadpan performance is one of the many disappointments in the movie: It's a minimalist bit of acting, in both style and effort.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
If that's true, maybe Anderson is wearing his heart on his sleeve for the first time: He could be paying wry tribute to the medium, showing real love for the process that lets him use his offbeat gifts. But I wouldn't bet on it.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
It's not funny. Neither is it sad, or moving, and without any of that, The Life Aquatic is not much of a movie.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
This movie is so odd, so uncommercial and so unformulaic, particularly for something produced by a major studio (Disney, in this case), that I can't imagine how Anderson got his idea for it past the front office and in front of cameras.
Joe Baltake - Sacramento Bee
The David Bowie songs sung in Portuguese on the soundtrack of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou are a lot like the movie itself. You may not understand the language, but you recognize what's being said as familiar and reassuring in some way.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Ultimately, it's hard to connect with these odd, distant people, and though the film has an ending that finds some grace, it's too little, too late.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
I've got to hand it to Wes Anderson. His films don't always work, but they are never boring.
Sean McBride - Sean the Movie Guy
A funny, smart and satisfying cruise into the Triangle of Comedy Comfort.
Terry Lawson - Detroit Free Press
The movie is so arrogant and self-satisfied that if it had genitals, I would kick them.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
Rich, strange and almost inexplicably satisfying, Life Aquatic is very much a movie to see and treasure.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
It may be impossible to love The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, but it's remarkably easy to drown in its sea of eccentricity.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
Life Aquatic may not be as cuddly as his other productions, but it still resonates loudly with grace, joy and originality. It's a remarkable piece of filmmaking.
Brian Orndorf - FilmJerk.com
Chock-a-block with acerbic humor and a tongue-in-cheek presentation perpetually on the brink of narrative collapse.
Jeanne Aufmuth - Palo Alto Weekly
An often clever film with some genuine laughs and a playful streak.
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Murray shines through Anderson's artificial half-movie -- always offering something sadder and deeper. Still, it's hard to get invested when the director won't stop winking.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
[C]inematic flotsam that drifts quickly out of mind.
Austin O'Connor - Lowell Sun
Michael Szymanski - Zap2it.com
The film is very prickly, and full of offbeat humor that isn't welcoming to anyone who doesn't buy into the cold, wooden tone.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
Not as fresh and surprising as, say, Rushmore. Still, I'll take a filmmaker who keeps using the same interesting devices over one who doesn't even know any.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Christy Lemire - Journal News (Westchester, NY)
Flat, unfocused and weirdly random.
Wade Major - Boxoffice Magazine
Often, The Life Aquatic borrows too much from the characters of Anderson's earlier work. But the humor and imagination of the piece more than makes up.
Jimmy O - Film Snobs
The problem with Life Aquatic is not that it's not funny, but that Anderson is already repeating ideas and recycling characters from his other films.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Smug and slow moving. Who cares about Steve Zissou? For Anderson, it is all about the boat.
Victoria Alexander - Movie Reviews in Croatian
Lately, I've complained that "gross" does not equal funny. Well, "weird" does not equal "entertaining."
Linda Cook - KWQC-TV (Iowa)
This waterlogged bit of whimsy is the cinematic equivalent of a belly-flop.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
It's sad to see the filmmaker himself sinking under the weight of his own ambition.
Jesse Paddock - culturevulture.net
Worth mentioning in the same breath as Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums? Absolutely not.
Jon Popick - Planet Sick-Boy
This is one of the most irritating, self-conscious and smug films of the year, working neither as a dark comedy nor a character study.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
blithely flits from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again with such an agile sleight-of-hand that the two eventually merge into a surprisingly coherent amalgam
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
Overall, un-evenly entertaining. Rich quality moments somewhat make up for substantial downtime. Undoubtedly, this will prove a risky film.
Ross Anthony - Hollywood Report Card
A lovable masterpiece replete with oddity and imagination.
Joshua Tyler - CinemaBlend.com
All of director Wes Anderson's movies have an idiosyncratic charm, but quirkiness alone isn't necessarily a virtue.
Dan Lybarger - eFilmCritic.com
has its small pleasures, but mostly it just flaps around like a dying fish
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
This laughless and smileless dud ... is as dead as a doornail.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
This is a leaky vessel sailing in circles, not the wonderful Life we were expecting.
Glenn Whipp - Los Angeles Daily News
Anderson may be incapable of making a dull film -- he's certainly incapable of making a dull-looking film -- and from its fake-docu introduction to its full-circle conclusion, his movie looks interesting and unique.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
It's so cool all the life has drained away, leaving nothing behind but a faint whiff of attitude.
Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide's Movie Guide
I savored every frame and gorged on every sound (being a fan of '70s Bowie helps).
Glenn Kenny - Premiere Magazine
It's part of that American eccentricity to obsess over growing up. Anderson's obsession has genuine, daffy substance.
Armond White - New York Press
One of the year's most ambitious and richly entertaining pictures.
Todd Gilchrist - IGN Movies
In the hands of less capable filmmakers this quirky fish tale might have sunk itself, but Murray and Anderson manage to reel it in.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
This wacky, wistful, occasionally humorous satire disappoints. Eccentrics afloat, it's an offbeat ship of fools.
Susan Granger - Modamag.com
A pearl of a movie -- maybe it's a little precious, but it's also luminous.
Pam Grady - Reel.com
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is another playful tribute by Wes Anderson to a wacky individualist.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
Murray's dry humor goes a long way toward making an essentially reprehensible character into a slyly entertaining portrait of middle-aged angst, egoism and neediness.
Kevin Lally - Film Journal International
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is Anderson's best film to date.
Bryan Enk - UGO
Forgetting to give any character a smidgen of emotion (it's funny because it's straight-faced!), this ends up a series of strange vignettes that you won't soon care about, either.
Dean Essner - E! Online
Wes Anderson follows Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums with ... the same film for the third time.
James Rocchi - Netflix
The pirate attack is so outright unreal, it may be as real as anything else in either the documentary or the fiction.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
Admirably scruffy in its droll comic pursuits, but has all the storytelling aplomb of a Sunday-funnies section.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
It's like a grown-up returning to Stevenson's Treasure Island and rediscovering what was so great about it in the first place.
Jeremiah Kipp - Slant Magazine
I thought I had seen the nadir of moviemaking art. But I had not reckoned with Wes Anderson. If I had a rating lower than zero, this one would get it.
Tony Medley - tonymedley.com
What might have a self-consciously quirky comedy is deepened and humanized by its rich performances, especially from Murray, who keeps getting better and better.
David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor
This may a film composed only of little moments, ah, but what moments they are.
Chris Barsanti - Filmcritic.com
A work about conflict, it is itself conflicted, torn between the confidence of a gifted filmmaker and the insecurity of a gifted writer.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
A potentially great little cult picture shrieking in protest at being bumped up into a $50 million studio movie whose only real pleasure is its happy-color production design.
Ella Taylor - L.A. Weekly
The precocious director is stuck with a lamentable case of arrested development.
Jurgen Fauth - About.com
Previously, Anderson's films contained so many ideas they threatened to burst at the seams; with The Life Aquatic, it appears that's happened.
Jeffrey Chen - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Launches with enormous promise, then sinks into a quagmire of misfired humor and misbegotten characters.
Jan Stuart - Newsday
This is one dreary, listless film. The sooner it is forgotten and the once-promising director restakes his claim in being someone to watch, the better off we all will be.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
Wes Anderson is increasingly concerned with art direction and offbeat touches, to the point where story and characters become an afterthought.
Kevin N. Laforest - Montreal Film Journal
Not a perfect movie, but... it is my #1 film of the year.
Edward Havens - FilmJerk.com
Quirky and Bill Murray-ish but doesn't always click.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Under Murray's steerage, this satiric outing with a sea-going TV personality commandeers the funny bone and will be the best of the year for many a passenger.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals