The trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel has an inordinate number of impressive cameos, but Bill Murray was all I needed in order to put this movie on my Watch List. Fortunately, The Grand Budapest Hotel has a lot more going for it than just interesting cameos.
Christoph came with me to see this one, and to be honest, I was surprised he joined me. I didn’t think he would be up for this kind of film, but he was and we went. We picked an early showing, hopped in the car and headed for the movie theater for a good time.
We arrived to find the place packed and cars circling, looking for parking. In addition to that, it was pouring and California drivers have no clue what do when water falls from the sky. It’s terrifying. Christoph and I are impatient when it comes to parking, and we knew we’d find rows of open spaces, if we were willing to walk. Sure enough, as soon as we got far enough from the entrance, we found tons of open spots.
Once parked, I pulled out our big ol’ umbrella and we made our way toward the theater. Christoph tried to be a gentleman and hold the umbrella over both our heads, but he failed. Likely, this is due to the fact that I was walking crooked and distracted, but what really mattered was that I was getting wet. With raindrops in my eyes, I took the thing from him and held it as high in the air as I could. You see, he’s almost a foot taller than I am and I have short arms. I had to stretch to get the umbrella over both our heads, and to keep the edges from stabbing Christoph in the eyes. I may have looked ridiculous, but at least I was keeping dry. I’d been having a good hair day and I wasn’t about to let the rain piss all over that.
We walked swiftly toward the entrance, purchased our tickets and picked up some snacks. Once we located our theater and found ourselves some seats, we got comfortable. Approximately six thousand trailers later, the lights dimmed and our feature began.
The movie begins with a young woman approaching a memorial to the author of the book, which she’s holding in her hands. She sits down, opens her book and begins to read. Instantly we’re transported to a time where The Grand Budapest Hotel is no longer grand, but dilapidated and only a couple dozen guests removed from abandoned.
The author of this book introduces us to the hotel through the eyes of its current owner, Zero Mustafa (F. Murray Abraham). We watch as a young writer (Jude Law) meets Mr. Mustafa in the lobby of the hotel and then later joins him for dinner. During their meal, the writer is treated to the story of how Mr. Mustafa went from lobby boy, to owner of the formerly illustrious Grand Budapest Hotel.
The story of the hotel is that of Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes). His story, is one of intrigue, comedy, murder, love and betrayal. The death of a very rich and very close friend (and countess) leads to M. Gustave’s inheritance of a priceless painting. This valuable work of art pushes greedy relatives to attempt to rob Gustave of what he’s due.
M. Gustave, along with his protégé Zero (Tony Revolori), dodge Madame D’s evil relatives and the police, jumping from one hilarious and preposterous scenario to another. There is so much to take in throughout this film that it almost seems overwhelming. The numerous cameos, excellent performances, kitschy costumes and subtly amusing sets all add up to a veritable smorgasbord of entertainment. I haven’t laughed that hard at the movies in quite some time.
When the movie ended, I turned to Christoph and said, “wow, that was really good.” He nodded in agreement and said that he’d thoroughly enjoyed it as well. Somewhat dumbstruck by our instant and intense appreciation of the brand of comedy we’d just consumed, we got up slowly and made our way out of the theater.
Once outside, Christoph stopped and lit a cigarette. As he did that, I asked, “OK, we’re both in agreement that if Bill Murray ever drives up to either one of us, swings open his car door and says, “get in,” we get in, right?” “Definitely,” he responded as he exhaled and we began walking back to our car.
Bill Murray might have been great, but Ralph Fiennes is excellent as M. Gustave H. He’s elegant, discreet, smart and hilarious as the legendary concierge. Fiennes brings an air of refinement and a touch of mystery to this portrayal adding depth to this whimsical and instantly loveable character.
The supporting cast accomplishes quite the feat, keeping up with Ralph Fiennes. Tilda Swinton in particular adds yet another kooky dimension to the delightfully absurd storyline with her portrayal of Madame D. Swinton brings us a nervous, needy and obscenely rich, old gal who is smart and has a kind, gentle heart. Swinton doesn’t get much screen time, but what’s there, is hers entirely.
In addition to the top-notch supporting cast, there were a few cameos. Actually, the cameos in this film are so plentiful, they border on gratuitous. Fortunately for everyone though, these roles were cast so precisely that they only enhance the humor that holds the story together.
This movie starts out a bit slow, but it ramps up and takes off soon enough. The Grand Budapest Hotel comes at you much like the screwball comedy of yore, with hilarity around every corner, plentiful physical comedy, and impeccable comedic timing. Once the movie picks up speed, it will feel as though the story is whizzing by you, but don’t fight it. Roll with the pace and do your best to keep up.
It appears Wes Andersen (Director) has pieced together something of a flawless comedy and you really should get off your butt and go see this one. Go! I’ll be here when you get back.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – A
A = Movies this good don’t happen often and If you’re going to watch something you should watch this. This is exactly what I go looking for when I go to the movies and I trust you’ll enjoy it if you keep an open mind and give it a go.