This film reportedly opened in March of 2014. My editor and I went to a theater where the poster was prominently displayed, and tried to buy two tickets. Sorry. The film hadn't opened, although we had been led to believe otherwise. So we ended up seeing and reviewing Mr. Peabody and Sherman. (The Grand Budapest Hotel, as it turns out, is very much like MPAS, which was animated. TGBH also has many animated sequences, created in lieu of special effects and location filming.)
Eventually this film had a domestic gross of just under $60 million and almost $160 million worldwide. So what happened last March? For some reason, most of the major chains delayed or skipped this film when it was released.
Now, almost a year later, TGBH can be seen online for free – music to my ears. It has already won a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy or Musical film, and other honors are on the way. An Oscar or two is not out of the question.
TGBH tells the story of 1930s hotel concierge M. Gustave, played perfectly by Ralph Fiennes. (Director Wes Anderson originally wanted Johnny Depp for the lead but that didn’t work out.) The cast includes many big names and Oscar winners in roles both major and minor. Filmed in Germany and Poland, the story is set in a fictional country – not Budapest, Hungary as the title would suggest.
The film details the now-lost era of grand hotels, and M. Gustave runs his with an iron hand and a knowing mind. He adopts lobby boy Zero Moustafa as a trainee and they become inseparable confidants and co-workers. The complicated story is told in flashbacks from 1968 by then-owner Moustafa. It is both a story about Europe's descent into WWII, as well as a tale of greed and murder.
TGBH is also characterized by unbelievable action sequences that could have been taken from Mr. Peabody and Sherman or any Road Runner/Coyote adventure. If this film were actually made in the 1930s, no doubt it would have starred The Marx Bros.
Despite the constant shift of time periods, the myriad of extravagant characters and the story of an insidious killer – played by William DaFoe – the film runs a neat and tidy 100 minutes, including the credits.
I suggest that you see The Grand Budapest Hotel, so if it does win a bouquet of Oscars you'll understand why. I don’t want to have to explain it again.
Rated 3.5 out of 4.0 reasons to pack your bags and get on the train.