Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

by guest reviewer Hunter S. Thompson

We were waiting for the film to start when the double espressos we'd had began to kick in and all hell broke loose. My attorney and I crossed our legs and bucked and squirmed but eventually we were forced to make a trip to the gents', where we sprayed our yellow streams against the aluminum urinals and laughed at the dream people pissing next to us.

My attorney wanted to go score some extra strong Fisherman's Friends, but I held firm. We're professionals, I told him, here to review The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou for Sterne. The editor had given us $200, most of which we had already spent on various substances. In my backpack I had a quart of red cordial, two packets of hayfever pills, seventeen pellets of Juicy Fruit, a ventolin inhaler, a quart of slightly off milk, some menthol cigarettes, a packet of matches, and two nine volt batteries. I could sense there were narcs in the cinema, but I felt safe with my attorney close by, ready to swing his gorilla fists into action at the slightest provocation. All the same, I tensed when the house lights went down, praying to God or whoever not to let me come down with a Burger Rings flashback, there in the crowded darkness.

The film started badly and went downhill from there. After the first mirthless exchange of stilted dialogue, my attorney lunged across me to grab at the backpack. He retrieved the ventolin inhaler, took two puffs, looked at the screen where Bill Murray and Owen Wilson were engaged in something inane, and took a couple more. I scarfed down three Juicy Fruit, a dash of red cordial and put a cigarette out on my chest, but it didn't help. The film was still there, grating away at my frayed nerve endings like a Nixon speech.

Through the drugs, I could see where the film was coming from. A kind of sweet-natured parody of the Jacques Cousteau school of adventurer-oceanographer, complete with stagey underwater sequences, and a ragtag crew of misfits. But twenty minutes in, I was pressing the nine volt battery to my tongue, trying to suck some alkaline joy from the bastard, as the shitty half-jokes washed over me like a sea of putrid hillbilly vomit. Around me people were laughing their empty laughs, trying to convince themselves they were having a good time, that their dollars hadn't been wasted on a lame fucking dog of a film.

By the halfway point, my attorney and I were fairly ruined. The milk and cigarettes were all gone, and my attorney was getting through the Juicy Fruit like they were going for nothing. I stuck two matches up my nose, swallowed some hayfever pills and told him I was leaving. The big bastard crashed through some old ladies who were chuckling into their purses over some crack Bill Murray - a goddamn living treasure, but wasted here - had just made. I thought my attorney was going to throw up, or get naked or something, so I grabbed his arm and pulled him through the heavy double doors. Red-eyed and half-dead we emerged into the night, gasping for air unsullied by the horror of The Life Aquatic.

"Jesus fuck a fucking sunbeam," said my attorney, "what a piece of shit! Let's go get ourselves those Fisherman's Friends!"

I nodded, downed the last of the red cordial, and ran off down the stairs, a Man on the Move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.

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