From James Wolcott's blog: "When I was watching Wes Anderson's beyond-precious and unjustifiably proud-of-itself The Life Aquatic, there was a scene where a three-legged dog is whimpering on deck and Jeff Goldblum, playing the suave villain, asks Bill Murray the dog's name. Murray tells him and (off camera) we hear a loud smack as Goldblum hits the dog to stop its whimpering. I can't recall if Murray changed expression or not, since that wasn't a high priority for him here. The minor cruelty doled out to an animal for a cheap laugh was compounded when the dog was left behind at the end splashing in the water as the cast of overpaid actors vying to outhip each other departs."
Wolcott puts it better than I could. Jason Schwartzmann gave Rushmore some real passion, and the film deserved the praise it got, but my jaw clenched while watching The Royal Tenenbaums. Not only was I both bored and irritated, Anjelica Huston looked bored and irritated, the usually ill-used Danny Glover looked bored and irritated, Gwyneth Paltrow looked bored and irritated (though that may just be Gwyneth)...only Gene Hackman didn't seem to be saying, "Dig how adorable I am in my ineffectuality." I know that Wes Anderson has already anticipated my belligerent response to his WASP privilege (check out the bowtie) by his irony, but that just makes me hate him more. Which, of course, lets him come out on top!
Would the aimless but amusing banter of his films be possible without the equally problematic Quentin Tarantino, who similarly dares you to disdain his shallowness? I saw Pulp Fiction on a college campus, surrounded by undergraduates (I was about 34 at the time), and I might have been the only person in the theater not to laugh when Marvin (the nigger, in case you've forgotten) gets his brains blown out! This gives Quentin the opportunity to appear in his own film and try to say the word "nigger" in good conscience, though he's so sweaty and uncomfortable doing it that ofay college students were not moved to emulate him, as far as I know. I realize that, having admitted that I was not enchanted by Pulp Fiction, I will never considered cool, but that's what his film is for: to separate the cool from the uncool (cf. this). What I'm getting at is that Wes Anderson is sort of the upper-class Tarantino, complex in an infuriatingly shallow if not selfish way, and deliberate in his provocation, which is intended to make you lose your cool and leave him on top.