The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is a highly stylized Wes Anderson movie starring Bill Murray. It's a Spiritual Sequel to The Royal Tenenbaums.Steve Zissou is a world-renowned oceanographer and documentarian. Things are not going well for him. For starters, his documentaries have been getting less acclaim. His wife, who was once married to his arch rival Alistair Hennessey, refuses to join him on his expeditions anymore. And worst of all, during the filming of his last documentary, his best friend Esteban was eaten by what Zissou describes as a "Jaguar shark", a creature that — given Zissou's mental state at the time — few believe exists.Zissou announces that his next documentary will detail his search for the jaguar shark in order to kill it. When he (predictably) can't get funding through the traditional channels, he receives the unexpected help of Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson Playing Against Type), a Kentucky airline pilot who believes Zissou to be his long lost father. Zissou sets out on the search for the Jaguar shark, His eclectic crew consists of Ned; a "bond company stooge" sent by Zissou's producer to keep an eye on him; pregnant reporter Jane Winslett-Richardson, who ends up coming between Ned and Zissou; Klaus, played by Willem Dafoe, a devoted German sailor with severe emotional issues; and a bunch of unpaid college interns.A beautiful, ridiculous, hilarious, and heartwrenching film. Either that, or an infinitely incomprehensible one. Oh, and HenrySelick made the fish.
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou provides examples of these tropes:
Bang Bang BANG: Averted: despite one of the film's themes being how the unrealistic style of Steve's films comes from his surrealist reality, the guns do sound like they would in real life (as in, high-pitched pops rather than low thooms).
Depending on your interpretation, Zissou may have left this in his films for that purpose, so this could be stealthily lampshading the concept of fanservice.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: Subverted with Bill the Bond Company Stooge. Steve expects him to follow them around on the expedition interfering and telling him what he can and can't do, but he's actually a decent guy.
Playing Against Type: Besides the aforementioned Owen Wilson (whose character even so has a hint of Wilson's usual laid back demeanor), there's Willem Dafoe as Klaus Daimler. Yes, Dafoe has a fair amount of range (he did play Jesus after all) but when you think "Willem Dafoe", do you usually think "chronically insecure guy desperately trying to gain the approval of a father figure only six years older than him"?
Hennessey: Is this my espresso machine? Wh-what is-h-how did you get my espresso machine?
Bond Company Stooge: Well... uh... we fuckin' stole it, man.
The Red Stapler: The Adidas Rom track shoes made specifically for Team Zissou produced a demand for them in the real world. Although they were never made by Adidas, blogs popped up with directions on how to retrofit a pair and people also started selling them on eBay. Red beanies also became quite popular after the movie was released, with companies selling Ned's traffic light adorned cap.
Zissou: Son of a bitch, I'm sick of these dolphins.
As the dolphins watch Ned get it on with Jane and turn to face each other and "laugh" when Steve walks by the monitors to check again, it's entirely possible they're just screwing with him. They later prove this by leading Eleanor to the rescue mission boat.
Sitcom Archnemesis: Early on, Steve refers to Hennessy as his "nemesis", most likely out of jealousy that the latter is richer, more handsome and more successful.
Short Cuts Make Long Delays: "You wanna pay for the extra gas?" Considering that the ship's fuel was set ablaze after it was boarded by pirates...
Shout-Out: Near the end, the team runs through a pond, and only Steve gets covered in leeches. The exact opposite of what happens in Ghostbusters, with everyone butBill Murray covered in Marshmellow.
Stop Motion: Most of the fantastic species Steve encounters are animated in stop motion.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Belafonte is taken over by pirates because Ned wasn't doing his job (due to having been put on the roster as "Kingsley Zissou"). Pele is playing his guitar on deck when they get boarded... and doesn't notice until the ladder hits the hull.
The Intern: The crew includes a bunch of unpaid college interns, whom the entire crew treats like crap and are forced to do menial jobs and loot one of Hennessey's research stations. They finally have enough and quit after the pirate attack, which Steve responds to by giving them all "Incomplete" in their evaluation (seeing as he doesn't want to pass then but doesn't want them to fail either.)