Every Wes Anderson Movie Ranked in Order of Twee-ness


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twee /twē/ adj.
1. Excessively or affectedly quaint, pretty, or sentimental.
2. When the scout leader character arranges his compass collection on a desk and then enters a pup tent to listen to a Herman’s Hermits B-side on a Peanuts record player.

Critically acclaimed director Wes Anderson has amassed a loyal following with his collection of whimsical movies filled with idiosyncratic characters. Distinct in their colorful art direction, playful camerawork, and childlike sensibilities, Wes Anderson movies are a polarizing lot. Some appreciate the offbeat sentimentality. Others would prefer to smash the life-sized diorama with a monogrammed Underwood typewriter. But wherever you fall on that spectrum, most movie lovers will have at least one Wes Anderson movie to appreciate, maybe even enjoy.

But in order to safely recommend a Wes Anderson movie, one must rank them on their levels of cloying sentimentality and have the viewers decide how much they can stomach. Here’s every feature-length Wes Anderson movie ranked by twee-ness.

8. The Darjeeling Limited

Although rife with quirky bickering stemming from childhood squabbles, the sibling rivalry and familial themes of The Darjeeling Limited are the least twee among Wes Anderson’s filmography. Maybe it’s because the main characters are only halfway emotionally stunted, or perhaps it’s the fact that nothing much really happens. Whatever the reasons, cinematic diabetics should be fine.

7. Rushmore

Dead mother? Check. Blackmail letter in crayon? Check. Serpico as a school play? Check. But there’s a certain feeling to Rushmore that’s antithetical to mawkishness and sets it apart from Wes’ other movies: anger. Reflected in its muted color scheme and how Bill Murray’s foil is more of a sad sack than a petulant man-child, this movie has a darker edge that many fans miss from Anderson’s later work.

6. Bottle Rocket

In his first feature-length picture, Wes Anderson incorporates his own trademark themes that went on to grow exponentially in his future work: arrested adulthood, callow exuberance, Salinger-esque relationships, and puppy love from a hopeless romantic. And while Bottle Rocket is certainly less twee than his more recent work, the twenty-something’s adolescent approach to wooing a motel chambermaid could invoke a sickening sugar high in some viewers.

5. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Chasing Claymation ocean life in Jacques Cousteau getups, the cast of The Life Aquatic is clearly living out Wes’ childhood fantasy. Their exploration vessel is detailed as a real-life clubhouse cross-section, their diving helmets come equipped with a transistor FM radio, and the sole female crew member is perpetually topless. Add a rocky relationship between a son and an estranged father, and it’s no surprise how Anderson could make a pirate attack seem cutesy.

4. The Royal Tenenbaums

Complete with POV character introductions, dry Alec Baldwin narration, and identifying dollhouse wardrobes, this is where Wes Anderson really began upping the stakes on the twee-ometer. Three lapsed child prodigies with steamer trunks of emotional baggage reunite under one roof to care for their supposedly ailing father. Children camp out in a museum, grown-ups cuddle in a tent listening to records, a puppy is run over: This is orange alert-level twee.

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel

A hypercolor madcap romp, The Grand Budapest Hotel is like The Great Muppet Caper broke out on a Marx Brothers set. Featuring characters with names like Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis and Inspector Henckels, as well as a flabbergasted bellhop and a snowsled chase scene, the threat of overdosing from whimsy is a clear and present danger when watching this movie. If it wasn’t for the sudden bursts of violence, we’d give this one the top spot.

2. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Before the trailer hit the web, moviegoers wondered how Anderson could put his signature touch on a stop-motion adaptation of a children’s story. But upon seeing the trailer, everyone realized, “Oh, it’s basically a woodland Wes Anderson movie.” With a movie palette that allows childlike sensibilities to soar, Fantastic Mr. Fox is exactly the sort of handmade film that a Wes Anderson character would act out from inside their pup tent.

1. Moonrise Kingdom

The cinematic equivalent of doing a kegstand with high fructose corn syrup, this is Wes Anderson at his most Wes Anderson-iest. An orphaned Cub Scout and a wise-beyond-her-years local girl give in to their prepubescent hormones, run away from home, and dance in their underwear to a lakeside record player. Practically ripped from the diary of a lovestruck adolescent and dragged through the shelves of a vintage thrift shop, this movie makes Garden State look like Chinatown. In other words, this is a make-it-or-break-it litmus test for the staunchest of Wes Anderson’s devotees.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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