User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 256 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 44 out of 256
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  1. SW
    Jan 12, 2005
    4
    Yes, it is quirky -- but boring nonetheless.
  2. TeeS.
    Jan 3, 2005
    6
    Had its moments... nowhere near as great Rushmore or Tenenbaums. The David Bowie strumming guitarist got old real quick. Ditto this character Bill Murray's been doing for far too long now.
  3. AlexR.
    Feb 1, 2005
    5
    Rushmore is in my top 5 films of all time. Since then Anderson has done little but disappoint me. He seems to be more interested in art direction than telling a story. Bill Murray looked as bored as I felt. I hope that he can somehow return to his earlier form.
  4. JeffL.
    Feb 24, 2005
    5
    Self-indulgent, oddball misfire of a comedy from the usually brilliant Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) about an aging American oceanographer/filmmaker (Bill Murray as Zissou) who makes Cousteau-like documentaries about his own adventures. His latest effort is plagued by budget problems, pirates, a pregnant BBC reporter (luminous Cate Blanchett), and the appearance of a Self-indulgent, oddball misfire of a comedy from the usually brilliant Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) about an aging American oceanographer/filmmaker (Bill Murray as Zissou) who makes Cousteau-like documentaries about his own adventures. His latest effort is plagued by budget problems, pirates, a pregnant BBC reporter (luminous Cate Blanchett), and the appearance of a grown-up son (Owen Wilson) he had never met. I loved the look of this film, from the deliberate artifice of Zissou's ship (a marvelously detailed and amusing set) to the fantastical, candy-colored sea creatures animated by Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas). I also enjoyed the supporting performances of Blanchett, Willem Dafoe (as an overly sensitive Germanic crew member), and Anjelica Huston (as the estranged Mrs. Zissou). But the film lacks the heart of Rushmore, which was blessed with Murray's warmest performance and Jason Schwartzman's star-making turn; nor does it have Tenenbaum's sharp wit or weirdly affecting take on the strength of family (even a rather dysfunctional one.) I enjoyed this in fits and starts, but for all its abundance of ideas, not nearly enough of them work to fill a rather poky 118 minutes. Expand
  5. VinceH.
    Feb 28, 2005
    4
    This movie feels too hermetic...too closed in and shut out from any real life. I understand it is not meant to exist within the realm of real life, but even the storytelling lacks in that field. This movie has neither the subtle details and hilarious character moments from "Rushmore" or the poignancy and wit of "The Royal Tennenbaums". This movie is certainly unique and original, and This movie feels too hermetic...too closed in and shut out from any real life. I understand it is not meant to exist within the realm of real life, but even the storytelling lacks in that field. This movie has neither the subtle details and hilarious character moments from "Rushmore" or the poignancy and wit of "The Royal Tennenbaums". This movie is certainly unique and original, and Robert Yeoman's photography is brilliant in every way, Anderson seems to be too concerned with being surreal and weird and not care much about character, plot, or story. While in The Royal Tennenbaums, the strange and odd elements were blended into the fabric of the overall frame of the story with Royal reconnecting with his children, it felt natural. Here certain scenarios and character quirks feel forced and uneasy, as if Anderson had a good idea for a scene, and then infused it with unneccessary elements just to make it more strange. Overall a big disapointment. Terrific soundtrack though. Expand
  6. lowlyworm
    Dec 9, 2004
    5
    If you love richard scarry and e. gorey, you'll really like this film!
  7. JeffM.
    Oct 15, 2006
    6
    I've enjoyed all of Wes Anderson's movies, and even loved one of them (Rushmore), but it was only a matter of time before he'd fall too in love with his own sense of ironic whimsy. Aquatic is never boring (with that cast, how could it be?), but the story never shakes the feeling that they're making it all up as they go along.
  8. IanA.
    Nov 22, 2005
    6
    Quite an enjoyable watch. Some funny laughs but mostly an interesting style of storytelling and filming. The sound quality is very bad at some points and had us questioning what was said.
  9. GaborA.
    Dec 10, 2005
    4
    Mildly amuzing throughout but not very funny. Too often wierdness and psuedo dramtic elements are used to distract from the fact that not much funny is happening.
  10. DaveV.
    Jan 26, 2005
    5
    For the first time in Wes Anderson's career he seems more interested in the set and costumes than the characters. it seems like every scene in the movie is set up to show just how clever Anderson is. The cast is game, but they have very little to work with.
  11. NicoS.
    Apr 15, 2005
    6
    I wanted to give this movie a 10, I really did. Wes Anderson is a genius. Pure genius. But The Life Aquatic was uneven and sometimes completely ridiculous. The Royal Tenebaums was a perfect match of whimsey and sad/funny realism, but The Life Aquatic has jumped the deep end.
  12. MichaelA.
    Jun 14, 2005
    6
    Convoluted story meanders and leaves you unsure why you were supposed to care.... Wes Anderson's least impressive to date.
  13. RitaP.
    Jan 26, 2006
    4
    Was disappointed by this especially after the royal tenebaums i was expecting a lot more from Wes Anderson.
  14. FameT.
    Dec 26, 2004
    5
    I'm giving this movie a five, but it felt like a two. I was very disappointed with the Royal Tenenbaums, and was hoping that this movie would reach the same comic heights as Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. The sad truth, however, is that this movie is not funny. I'm not going to pretend that it was simply because the crew members wore cool shirts.
  15. Joe
    Dec 26, 2004
    6
    Can we PLEASE have a word count limit on reader comments?! And for future post-ees, this is NOT your "Film Theory" class, we are not your TAs, so DO NOT post your freakin' B- mid-term papers because we won't read it.
  16. Feb 24, 2014
    6
    It retains many facets of Wes Anderson's movies, such as the humor and the eccentricity of the characters. Unfortunately, it was boring in many of its parts. I really think it would have benefited from a shorter length.
  17. Jun 25, 2014
    5
    The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou has all the quirky, familiar elements of an Anderson film, but with less wit and intelligence than the rest of them. Just like the deep sea cruiser Team Zissou is in, the movie sinks and sinks until it reaches rock bottom. Murray and Wilson just barely make it watchable, even if the forced irony is over the top.
  18. Jan 6, 2014
    6
    Unfortunately, the wonderful excitement I usually get while watching Anderson movies faded after the first 55 running min. of "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" as I realised it will last twice as long as from now. After that it was kind of difficult to focus on the movie while not to get drowned into a dull mood. This film of his contained too much dispensable scenes. For my part,Unfortunately, the wonderful excitement I usually get while watching Anderson movies faded after the first 55 running min. of "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" as I realised it will last twice as long as from now. After that it was kind of difficult to focus on the movie while not to get drowned into a dull mood. This film of his contained too much dispensable scenes. For my part, Anderson movies should obviously maintain a shorter length. Expand
Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. Wonderfully weird and wistful adventure-comedy about a fish-out-of-water oceanographer.
  2. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    50
    The effect is often soporific.
  3. Murray is always pleasurable company, and his barely suppressed soulfulness might've supported this dawdling big-fish story if its insistent larkiness had abated and let a little reality in, as had "Rushmore."