Director Wes Anderson's affection for meticulously curated soundtracks can be traced back to even his very first short film. Filmed in 1992, the 13-minute Bottle Rocket introduces the actors and characters who would populate the feature film of the same name just a few years later. While the feature version of Bottle Rocket would utilize what is now considered Anderson's trademark soundtrack style of well-placed cult classics (Love's "Alone Again Or") and obscurities (Oliver Onions' "Zorro Is Back") from rock's oft-overlooked back catalog, his initial vision for this short film was more inspired by the French new wave, and its brief soundtrack features an array of classic cool jazz pieces. Filmed in black and white, the initial seeds of Anthony (Luke Wilson) and Dignan's (Owen Wilson) bookstore heist are planted to the tunes of Chet Baker, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane. Future Anderson mainstay Vince Guaraldi makes an early appearance here with the Peanuts-inspired "Skating" and "Happiness Is," and the Art Blakey drum solo that leads off Horace Silver's "Nothing But the Soul" would later be utilized in the films Rushmore (1998) and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001). While the dialogue and style of this early short short show Anderson trying to find his footing, the all-jazz soundtrack is as cohesive and effective as any of his future soundtrack collaborations with music supervisor Randall Poster. Apparently, the studio balked at these initial song choices, leading the feature film to go in a different direction musically, but this eight-song soundtrack remains a worthwhile curiosity for fans of Anderson's movies and of Bottle Rocket in particular.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger