The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)



Critic Consensus: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is getting soaked by many critics, who call it smug, ironic and artificial. Still, others have praised the movie's sheer uniqueness, eccentricity and whimsy.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Photos

Movie Info

Internationally famous oceanographer Steve Zissou and his crew--Team Zissou--set sail on an expedition to hunt down the mysterious, elusive, possibly non-existent Jaguar Shark that killed Zissou's partner during the documentary filming of their latest adventure. A young airline co-pilot who may or may not be Zissou's son, a beautiful journalist assigned to write a profile of Zissou, and Zissou's estranged wife and co-producer, Eleanor, joins them on their voyage. They face overwhelming complications including pirates, kidnapping, and bankruptcy.
R (for language, some drug use, violence and partial nudity)
Action & Adventure , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Bill Murray
as Steve Zissou
Owen Wilson
as Ned Plimpton
Cate Blanchett
as Jane Winslett-Richardson
Anjelica Huston
as Eleanor Zissou
Willem Dafoe
as Klaus Daimler
Jeff Goldblum
as Alistair Hennessey
Michael Gambon
as Oseary Drakoulias
Noah Taylor
as Vladimir Wolodarsky
Bud Cort
as Bill Ubell
Seu Jorge
as Pele dos Santos
Robyn Cohen
as Anne-Marie Sakowitz
Waris Ahluvalia
as Vikram Ray
Niels Koizumi
as Bobby Ogata
Pawel Wdowczak
as Renzo Pietro
Seymour Cassel
as Esteban du Plantier
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

All Critics (199) | Top Critics (47)

Like the jaguar shark, The Life Aquatic is hard to get a hook into.

Full Review… | March 17, 2014
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

If you go with it, you'll love the film.

Full Review… | March 17, 2014
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The Life Aquatic drifts along at a lazy pace, the occasional encounter with pirates notwithstanding.

Full Review… | March 17, 2014
The New Republic
Top Critic

Noah Baumbach collaborated on the arch script, whose bittersweet weirdness leaves a residue even as the narrative disintegrates.

Full Review… | March 17, 2014
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Like the film's fake fish, The Life Aquatic is endlessly fascinating to watch but, if you look closer, there's not much there.

Full Review… | March 17, 2014
Associated Press
Top Critic

The director magically conjures emotional dividends in the film's invigorating last moments, which wordlessly celebrate an underrated and truly Andersonian virtue: solidarity.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou


An aging underwater nature documentarian assembles a team to hunt down the jaguar shark that ate his partner, including a pregnant journalist he has a crush on and a pilot who may or may not be his illegitimate son. It's "Moby Dick" by way of Jacques Cousteau, an epic comedy with a great cast, pirates, and deliberately artificial animated tropical fish; it's also the driest underwater comedy you'll ever see.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer



Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer


An oceanographer on a Moby Dick revenge mission reunites with his long-lost son as he pursues the shark who killed his partner. What is true of all Wes Anderson's films is doubly true of this one. Emotionally wrenching dynamics handled blithely and cheeky sequences of deadpan humor abound in this film, and while I think Anderson's style works in most of his films, this film gets overbearingly laid-back. All of the performances are classic Anderson fare (with the exception of Owen Wilson whose accent changes from scene to scene), and the actors are certainly not to blame for the film's failures; rather, I think Anderson's style becomes more gimmicky in this film than it does in his other work. Whereas Darjeeling Limited was a film with unmistakable substance, the substance of this film is hidden beneath layers of Anderson schtick, and what Anderson is saying - a warning against the dangers of obsession and selfishness - only comes out in fits and starts. Overall, I think this film is only for die-hard Anderson fans who delight in his schtick and have the patience to wait for the subject to be finally revealed.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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