Be it coincidence or homage or the outright hope that they don’t get caught aping someone else’s movie, filmmakers have been replicating the work of those who have gone before them for some time now. Every now and then we like to stop and point out one of those instances.*
Director Wes Anderson is a fan of the 1984 cult classic The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai: Across The Eighth Dimension. Even if he didn’t admit to it in interviews beforehand, the influence of W D Richter’s quirky science-fiction/adventure/comedy permeates Anderson’s 2004 film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Both feature heroes who are famous in their cinematic world for their scientific exploits. The found family nature of Team Zissou’s group of scientists certainly feels informed by Buckaroo Banzai‘s Team Banzai, even if the similar style names weren’t a giveaway. But the most obvious homage is at the end of the film when Anderson stages his own version of The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai‘s end credits cast march. Anderson even admits on the director’s commentary track to the Criterion Collection release of the film that the moment is “inspired by, if not outright stolen from, Buckaroo Banzai.” But when you have Banzai co-star Jeff Goldblum in your movie, how could you not resist doing so?
However, there is another, perhaps more subtle homage to The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai that Anderson managed to slip into another film of his, 2010’s Moonlight Kingdom. It comes during the film’s climax as its two preteen lovers, Sam and Suzy (played by newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward), on the run from various parental, guardian and child services figures find themselves trapped on a church roof in the midst of a hurricane. Rather than allow the pursuing adults to split them up, the two decide to jump to the water below, though they admit that the fall could kill them. Sharing what could be their last kiss, a spark of lightening jumps from Sam to Suzy, presumably leftover electricity from when Sam was struck by lightening earlier in the film. The moment echoes a scene at the end of Buckaroo Banzai where the titular hero, played by Peter Weller, goes to give a goodbye kiss to the departed Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin). As he leans over Penny’s supine body, a spark of electricity, left over from a shock that the hero received earlier in the film, leaps across from him to her, bringing her back to life. The two share a kiss as more sparks fly, as it were.
Does the future hold any more such homages? Anyone for The Fantastic Mr. Fox Versus The World Crime League?
*And in the spirit of the swipe, we readily acknowledge that we were “inspired” by a similar feature over at Rich Johnson’s comic book news and gossip site, Bleeding Cool.