How a movie is marketed can work against the unprepared moviegoer who just wants to watch the film. For me, Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel is a good example of this. The film is being marketed as a comedy. Maybe that’s what Anderson’s fans expect, so the producers wanted to make sure they came prepared. From the earliest moments, it became apparent that the initiated members of the audience came to the theater ready to laugh. They laughed and they laughed, as if the things they found funny were all inside jokes. An actor they recognized appeared on the screen. They laughed. Another actor they recognized appeared on the screen. They laughed. If you know Wes Anderson’s films, you can imagine how often this happened.
My problem with all the laughing was that the movie was not funny. Not really. Is Billy Murray funny? Sometimes. Is Owen Wilson funny? Sometimes. But just because an actor who is sometimes funny appears on the screen is that cause to laugh? Apparently.
That having been said, did I enjoy the film? Yes. Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori were wonderful as the hero and his sidekick. Visually, the film was spectacular, bringing the viewer into a world that no longer exists or, perhaps, never did. This surreal grand hotel experience with all its dark undertones might be Wes Anderson’s 21st century take on the Alain Resnais classic Last Year at Marienbad. Who knows what really happened? In this case, does it matter? Just go along for the ride. The ride is beautiful.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is currently in theaters, but find it here when it becomes available on DVD.