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Movie Review: the Darjeeling Limited

When I returned The Darjeeling Limited to Blockbuster, the clerk, my friend Michelle, asked me how I liked it. “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?” I immediately responded without even thinking about it.
Upon reflection, this offhand comment seems to just about sum up my feelings about this movie. I mean, it has good production values and decent direction and production by Wes Anderson, who also directed the quirky but interesting films “Rushmore,” and the “Royal Tenenbaums.”

The acting is adequate if not outstanding by Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman (also one of the screenwroters along with Roman Coppola), Adrien Brody as three brothers on a mission to strengthen their bond with hopes that the exotic (to them) location of modern-day India will positively affect their relationship.

However, the whole mission, the idiosyncrasies of the brothers, the meandering misadventures and strange happenings seem as stale and trivial as the once flavorful gum now slowly deteriorating on the bedpost.

Much of the action takes place on the Indian train referenced in the film’s title. There are some faintly amusing moments, as when a poisonous snake purchased for some unknown reason by one of the brothers escapes on board the train.

The so-called brother bonding mostly just got on my nerves. Owen Wilson was not funny as a presumptuous, bossy older brother; I just got tired of his “control freak” persona. However, Wilson did play his usual role as a bad boy who turns out reformed in the end.

I usually enjoy the antics of Owen Wilson. He may or may not be a great actor, but he is a truly gifted comic. This time he just seems to try too hard, takes the role perhaps too seriously and comes across as just obnoxious rather than charming.

Jason Schwartzman appeared as the charming overachiever in what is perhaps Anderson’s most critically acclaimed film to date, “Rushmore.” Here, he and Adrien Brody play the other brothers, who are almost too diffident in their following of the older brother (Wilson). That they never seem to quite establish themselves as independent from the older brother, seems artificially extreme.

I felt myself wanting “Darjeeling” to work with its admirable themes of love and familial bonding (and sympathy for the principals) amid the vicissitudes of an unusual mother and distant father.

Yet, I could neither truly feel their alienation from each other nor rejoice in their transformation, which without giving away the plot, seemed overly contrived to me.