With all the big blockbusters releasing over the summer movie season, it’s refreshing to see a Wes Anderson film in the mix. The talented writer/director has a loyal following of both moviegoers and movie stars, and has probably made at least one or two films that you’ve enjoyed. Anderson’s latest movie, Asteroid City, is a slight departure from his usual themes, as he’s been experimenting more and more with recent releases.
One thing almost all Wes Anderson movies seem to have in common is that a star-studded cast will share an intimate experience that’s mostly nonsensical (in the best way possible). That trend carries over into Asteroid City, with the story focusing on a play that’s presented in the form of a movie.
Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman) lost his wife three weeks ago, but has yet to tell his children. When their car breaks down near a small, middle of nowhere town, they wait it out for Augie’s father-in-law, Stanley Zak (Tom Hanks), to come pick them up. In the meantime, there are endless quirky shenanigans with movie star Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson), military General Gibson (Jeffrey Wright), Country music star Montana (Rupert Friend), and more.
Anderson is exceptional when it comes to making a seemingly small production feel big. Asteroid City takes place in a small town, as well as on a movie set, with brief nods to a screenwriting session. It’s not a particularly expansive film, but it feels huge thanks to the talented actors, and Anderson’s writing.
While there’s plenty of charm in the film, it’s not quite as focused as many of Anderson’s previous efforts. The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Fantastic Mr. Fox are standouts for many, but Isle of Dogs and others all felt like very focused stories that centered on one major theme or character. Asteroid City feels much less focused, offering a variety of characters and themes for the audience to follow.
In a vacuum, Asteroid City is great. However, comparing it to some of Anderson’s other films, it falls a bit short. It’s still a film that fans of Anderson’s work should be thrilled to see, but this one is not as mainstream-friendly as The Grand Budapest Hotel, or Fantastic Mr. Fox. If you aren’t already looking forward to every new Wes Anderson film, this isn’t the movie that’s likely to win you over.
About Asteroid City
Synopsis: Following a writer on his world famous fictional play about a grieving father who travels with his tech-obsessed family to small rural Asteroid City to compete in a junior stargazing event, only to have his world view disrupted forever.
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Stars: Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks
Runtime: 1 Hour, 44 Minutes
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.