Bottle Rocket

  • Review Date: October 2, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

Common Sense Media says

The first Anderson/Wilson offbeat, talky comedy.
  • Review Date: October 2, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 91 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Three friends seek out the excitement of a life of petty heists.


The cops beat up a suspect; Dignan gets into a brawl at a bar and ends up with a bloody gash on his face; Dignan gives Anthony a bloody nose; Bob's brother beats him off camera, and he subsequently wears a bandage around his ear.


Anthony and Inez kiss on a few occasions and make love once (no nudity). A woman flirts with Anthony.


R-rated language: "f--k," "s--t," "asshole," "c---sucker," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The guys drink at a bar; partygoers drink cocktails and smoke cigars/cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this indie dramedy follows three best friends who become bumbling small-time crooks in hopes of getting in on a real heist. There is a lot of R-rated language plus one love scene (no nudity is visible, however). The overall theme of seeking excitement from planning and executing a robbery may not be suitable for younger children, but there's a great deal of humor to offset the "life of crime" elements.

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What's the story?

In this quirky crime comedy, three best friends think committing petty heists -- like gently robbing the local book superstore -- will lead to a more exciting and fulfilling life. The trio's ring-leader is Dignan (Owen Wilson), the kind of loony, fast-talking friend who can convince a pal to do just about anything. Anthony (Luke Wilson) recently left a volunteer psychiatric facility, while Bob (Robert Musgrave) has family money and a car. Dignan sets out to prove his gang as successful crooks, so that his former landscaping employer and small-time crime boss Mr. Henry (James Caan) will hire them for a big score. Of course they're completely inept, and incapable of executing a real heist.

Is it any good?


The first feature film writer-director Wes Anderson and writer-star Owen Wilson collaborated on sets the tone for their many quirky independent ensembles to come. Those familiar with Anderson's films will recognize some of the supporting players, like the Wilsons' older sibling Andrew as Bob's annoying bully of a brother and the always entertaining Kumar Pallana as a bumbling safe specialist. The overly stylized dialogue and slightly unstable relationships will also make sense, although it has become even wittier (some would say self-indulgent) over the years.

BOTTLE ROCKET was a critical success when it was released in 1996 and launched the careers of a creative team that know comedy can be talky, subtle, character driven, and even heartbreaking at times. It's not the best Anderson-Wilson endeavor, but as the first it establishes central elements visible in all their films.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about risk-taking and peer pressure. Did Anthony seem like he really wanted to go along with Dignan, or was he just humoring him? Kids: Was Dignan using Bob for his money? What would you do if friends asked you to do something illegal?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 21, 1996
DVD release date:December 22, 1998
Cast:Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Robert Musgrave
Director:Wes Anderson
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language.

This review of Bottle Rocket was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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