Steve Zissou Meet Jacques Cousteau

Bill Murray has a way of taking any story and making it into a unique experience. So what happens when the story is already a unique experience and then you put Bill Murray into it? The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is a very dark comedy with some very strange twists and turns but it certainly is Murray at his absolute best. It is a tribute to the late Jacques Cousteau but in a very odd way.
Wes Anderson had been trying to get his character Steve Zissou off the ground for a while. It wasn’t casting the part of Steve Zissou that was difficult, it was getting everyone else in place that seemed to take forever. The part of Steve Zissou was written for, and played by, comedy legend Bill Murray. Wes Anderson had Murray in mind when he created Steve Zissou and Wes Anderson has often said that absolutely no one else could play the part of Steve Zissou but Bill Murray. However casting the part of Steve Zissou’s pregnant love interest Jane Winslett-Richardson was a bit more difficult. Originally the part’s name was modeled after the actress Kate Winslet but she was not available to play the role. Gwyenth Paltrow was then cast for the role but eventually she had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts. International superstar Nicole Kidman then expressed an interest in the role so Wes Anderson eagerly hired her to be in the movie. Then Kidman had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Julianne Moore said she may have wanted the role as well but in the end it went to Cate Blanchett who just happened to also be pregnant for real at the time. So, in the end, Steve Zissou got his love interest. All of that moving around and the movie still bombed at the box office.

The Life Aquatic is about a man named Steve Zissou who is a direct copy of the late great Jacques Cousteau. Steve Zissou indeed is a tribute to Cousteau as this whole movie is a dark salute to the late great oceanographer and inventor of SCUBA equipment. Cousteau’s ship was an old minesweeper called the Calypso and Zissou’s ship was an old minesweeper called the Belafonte who was a singer famous for singing calypso songs. Zissou’s partner is killed by the legendary jaguar shark and Zissou plots his revenge. While he is plotting his revenge against the jaguar shark his professional, and personal, world is failing in around him. His ocean movies are not doing well at the box office anymore, his wife may be seeing her ex-husband behind Zissou’s back, and out of nowhere comes a young man claiming to be Zissou’s long lost son. Zissou thinks this trailing and killing of the jaguar shark is his only way to get back on top so he gets his crew ready to head out. Part of his crew is a pregnant female reporter named Jane who Zissou begins to develop feelings for. As the journey forges on the crew is abducted by pirates and robbed of everything they had. With no money, no supplies, and no equipment left to finish their movie Zissou and his crew are forced to improvise.

The Life Aquatic was made in 2004 which is the year after Murray’s Oscar winning performance in Lost In Translation. The performance in The Life Aquatic received some decent fanfare because of Murray’s recent Oscar win but in the end the box office, and the critics, were not kind to The Life Aquatic. It is one of those movies you either love or hate and unfortunately the people printing the reviews were not fans of the movie. But it has an all-star cast that included Owen Wilson and Cate Blanchett and probably one of the strangest stories put on film. It could be categorized as a dark comedy but sometimes it is hard to tell when The Life Aquatic is trying to be a comedy and when it is trying to be dark.
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