Still Ain't No Trip to Cleveland

This week's news of Owen Wilson's attempted suicide, and Matt Seitz's essay about Owen, got me to thinking about the whole reason Owen got famous in the first place: 1996's Bottle Rocket, which remains -- easily -- the best film ever made in Dallas. I was wondering specifically why that movie -- Wes Anderson's debut as writer-director, with Owen also credited as writer -- has never received a proper DVD release as part of the Criterion Collection. It's has been a subject of much discussion amongst cinephiles for years: Where's Bottle Rocket's Criterion edition?

Every week, Criterion releases major classics, minor masterpieces and forgotten gems in special editions -- all, with high-definition digital transfers approved by the filmmakers. And most come loaded down with supplemental materials -- a handful of documentaries, deleted scenes, commentaries from filmmakers and scholars, essays, video interviews and TV specials, all the collected effluvia associated with an important or beloved movie. Certainly, Bottle Rocket would qualify -- if only because all of Anderson's other films have received the Criterion treatment, most upon initial home-video release.

Criterion does indeed possess the North American home video rights for the movie, yet a spokesperson for Criterion told Unfair Park yesterday that Bottle Rocket is not scheduled for release through early 2008, and I've been told there are no plans for its release well beyond that. Criterion's publicist offered no reason for the hold-up; only Wes Anderson or the Wilsons could answer that question.

So that means that if you want to see, oh, the original 13-minute black-and-white short, you will have to settle for the crappy version available on YouTube. And I've been told for years there are some astounding deleted scenes -- all of which were worth including and a few of which briefly cameo in the original trailer below. And there is this oddly narrated electronic press kit, as well. Supplements are not hard to come by.

But the only disc available is a bare-bones 1998 release that has absolutely nothing on it, save for the 91-minute theatrical version -- which is a terrible transfer, no less. But it's all we have. All I know is I really wanna be a part of this team. And I'm the only one with a car. --Robert Wilonsky

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