The Grand Budapest Hotel – a review and eventual study of the “old people giggles”
Oh my intrepid readers, how I have missed you so. Often in my travels do I consider making my usual bi-monthly, bi-yearly, bi-quarterly return to my famed movie blog, however a little troll in the back corner of my closet, which I consider my humble abode, keeps me away from my wonderful WordPress site…until now.
You see my dear followers, I have come back from the dead yet again to talk to you about the wonderful world of Wes Anderson.
Not many directors have carved themselves such a individualistic style in our current generation of filmmakers, and bar-none the most recognizable is Wes Anderson. Much like poor JJ Abrams and his lens flares, the internet have deterred most people from enjoying Wes’ films due to such internet sensations as the video about his shots of symmetry or the SNL sketch ‘The Coterie of Sinister Intruders.’
Most people forget the beautiful humanistic stories Mr. Anderson has given us such as the rebellious Max’s attempt to court private school teacher Miss. Cross in ‘Rushmore’ and Royal Tenenbaum’s path to redemption within ‘The Royal Tenenbaums.’ His dry wit and beautiful cinematography became the back bone to inside looks at our relationships with one another.
I have discussed most of this in length with a previous entry about his themes of innocence and fatherhood, which brings me to Wes Anderson’s latest venture: The Grand Budapest Hotel.
After the success of ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ I was quite excited for Wes’ latest venture into filmmaking. The story takes place at the self-titled hotel and lobby boy Zero’s relationship with the famous M. Gustav.
It keeps in time with Wes’ usual story of fatherhood through unusual means, while tackling other themes he has rarely touched upon before such as the fear of war as well as the fear of growing old.
While the film often had scenes of wonderful humor and surprising/memorable suspense, it overall left me feeling unsatisfied. In my humble opinion it was probably Wes’ lesser films along with ‘Darjeeling Limited’ and ‘Life Aquatic.’
Where the film suffers the most is its overall style over substance. The film moves at a breakneck pace with its story which seemed for equipped for a two and a half hour epic. This condensing often leaves one scratching your head, while Wes shoves in more and more cameos and jokes. Usually when I see a cameo I often enjoy it, but this ensemble film moves so quickly pretty much any and every supporting role becomes a cameo appearance.
Suffering from the same faults of ‘Life Aquatic’ Wes aims to tell a story on a much grander scope of his previous films, and it seems the story begins to suffer because of it. The short runtime leaves little room for character development or a satisfying ending.
Now I do not mean to cause you to not want to see the film. By all means I still enjoyed it. Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori’s chemistry as hotel manager & lobby boy turned best friends is beyond electric. It boasts Anderson’s best cinematography/production design to date, and the performances are serviceable when they can be.
However, I was shocked to find the overwhelming positive word of mouth that has come from this film. While I found it an enjoyable picture, people are falling in love with talking Oscars and such. Which brings me to the second part of this ranting post: the old people giggles.
The ‘old people giggles’ are a new thing I am discovering more and more through my movie-going experiences. It has often been a thing of irritation, and it is only growing as the years go on. Currently the Library of Congress are registering it as an actual phrase.
You see my dear readers the old people giggles is when both viewers need to laugh because they’re afraid they missed/don’t fully grasp a joke OR when old people giggle at cheap jokes/easy laughs that’re the equivalent of cheap pops at a wrestling show.
Seeing Budapest Hotel reminded me how annoyingly affective it can be to my psyche. Sometimes the human condition truly scares me. Why must we treat any and all awkward silences as an opportunity to laugh at something. Not all moments are meant to comedic in films, and if the joke isn’t funny you are not obligated to laugh. I, as always, digress, but just be on the lookout my friends, you never know when the old people giggles will find you.
In closing, if you’re a big Wes Anderson fan ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ will most likely be an enjoyable time. It’s whimsical feel, war-time setting, and surprising violence/suspenseful scenes bring some unique aspects of Anderson we haven’t seen before. Sadly the story is gobbled up by these very tropes, and much like Quentin Tarantino I yearn for the day Anderson goes back to his more subtle films like ‘Rushmore’ & ‘Bottle Rocket.’
That’ll be all for now kiddies, I must retire to bedlam.