March 21, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Long

Review: Looks, laughs are enough in nutty 'Grand Budapest Hotel'

Ralph Fiennes, left, Saoirse Ronan, Tony Revolori and an all-star cast are featured in the comedy-drama 'The Grand Budapest Hotel.' (Bob Yeoman / Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Rococo and ridiculous, it’s hard not to be impressed with “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” At the same time, the rooms in this inn are curiously empty.

But then director-writer Wes Anderson exults in artifice — in color, design, symmetry, appearance. With his last feature, the endearing “Moonrise Kingdom,” he included human feeling as well. In “Budapest” he seems to be saying, nah, never mind — looks and laughs are enough.

And they will be for many. “Budapest” is pretty much an old-fashioned screwball comedy garishly dressed. It’s goofy, eccentric and often downright silly. There are many scenes that would have worked in a “Three Stooges” movie.

After a series of fussy frames, Anderson introduces us to his main character, M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), concierge at a legendary hotel perched atop a mountain in a fictional European country on the brink of war. He is in the process of training a lobby boy named Zero (Tony Revolori), who will become his best friend and accomplice.

Gustave gives very personal service to many of the older, wealthy women who stay at the hotel. When one of them (Tilda Swinton, aged to approximately 130) passes away, she leaves a priceless painting to him, an act which infuriates her arrogant son (Adrien Brody).

This leads to thievery, murder, imprisonment, improbable chases and remarkable getaways, as well as many ornate pastries. The list of well-known actors involved in these shenanigans is long and impressive — F. Murray Abraham to Saoirse Ronan to Harvey Keitel, Edward Norton and on.

It must be fun to work for Anderson, and it’s fun to watch his movies. But there’s also an unsettling vacancy to these proceedings. Essentially, Anderson is so good you want him to be better.

'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

GRADE: B-

Rated R for language, some sexual content and violence

Running time 100 minutes

tlong@detroitnews.com
twitter.com/toomuchTomLong

More Tom Long