But You Forgot About: Five Easy Pieces

November 1, 2007

The A.V. Club loves lists. Previously a subsection of The Onion, The A.V. Club has since come into its own producing a pretty overwhelming number of critiques and feature articles, most of which come down to lists of songs or movies centered around a specific topic.

To coincide with the release of Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, The A.V. Club put two lists up: “16 Films Without Which Wes Anderson Couldn’t Have Happened” and “10 Films That Couldn’t Have Happened Without Wes Anderson.”

The first list, films predating Wes Anderson, sprung to mind as I finished Jack Nicholson’s Five Easy Pieces. Including it in a list of films necessary for the existence of Wes Anderson might be drawing too strong a thread of causality from one to the next, but I couldn’t help seeing shades of Wes Anderson, especially The Royal Tenenbaums, through the entire movie.

Maybe there’s universal appeal to the story of a son who flees his socially dysfunctional family of post-upper class savants, especially driven away by the impossibly distant father figure at its head, and goes in search of something different, something other. (Monomyth, possibly?)

Even so, the minor characters have quirks and unsettling misbehaviors that add more to the movie than just advancing Nicholson’s reassociation with his family. Does the brother need to be wearing a neck brace throughout? Probably not, and it’s in those quick details that the similarities to Wes Anderson stick out. At the same time those quick little pieces of life infuse the movie with a greater life, and elevate well beyond the other more standard late-60s paeans to the counterculture.

I’m not sure this should be as highly regarded as it is, but it can’t hurt to use this clip here to highlight the movie’s most famous scene: