Really wanted to catch this in the theater, but it wasn't to be. My family did just catch up with it on DVD a couple nights ago, and everyone loved it. I really regret not making a theater viewing work, because this movie would have been even more delightful on the big screen, with the way it's filmed and the attention to detail (and the hilarious animation sections).
What a difficult film to describe! A story within a story within a story, each section set in a different decade, with a whole ton of wacky characters, all played by famous actors, having crazy adventures. All the actors look like they're having a blast acting in this movie. It is by turns wacky, sweet, serious, laugh-out-loud funny, violent, poignant, and bitter-sweet. Definitely not a film for everyone, as it earns its R rating, but it appeals to sense of humor. My family thought it was very Monty Python-esque in its sense of comedy, and my oldest niece is running out to buy herself her own a copy immediately.
The movie centers around Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, the world-famous concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel. I'm not quite sure how someone can play a pompous, shallow, vain, impeccable polite, warm-hearted man and still make him rather endearing, but Ralph Fiennes always has had charisma to spare, and he pulls it off. He is hilarious in the role. When one of his regular wealthy hotel patrons dies mysteriously, he rushes off to pay his respects -- and see if she left him anything in her will. She did, the most valuable painting in her collection. Her son Dimitri (Adrien Brody) wants it for himself, and promptly has M. Gustave framed for her murder. M. Gustave and Zero, his lobby boy (and one of the multiple narrators), work to prove his innocence through the rest of the movie.
Things I particularly loved. Includes minor spoilers.
Jeff Goldblum's cat-loving ethical lawyer. "Not agreed." He is probably my favorite character.
Bill Murray and the whole rest of the Society of Crossed Keys
Willem Dafoe flashing his business card around. Okay, really, Willem Dafoe anytime he was on screen
The pacing of the film
The prison escape, worth the price of admission alone! Probably my favorite scene.
The funicular and the cable cars
The framing of each shot - beautiful!
The 1932 version of the hotel, with its lovely interior.
The memorable score by Alexandre Desplat. It's as wacky as the movie, but in just the right way.
I really can't wait to watch it again and catch the little things I missed the first time. I suspect my family will watch this one quite frequently.