Some filmmakers become genres unto themselves. A “Wes Anderson movie” very quickly came to mean something specific, regardless of its definition as coming-of-age picture (Rushmore), Salingeresque family comedy (The Royal Tenenbaums), or animated kiddie fare (Fantastic Mr. Fox). If you’ve absorbed the storybook Anderson style, you won’t find too many surprises in The Grand Budapest Hotel, his eighth feature. But you will find a disciplined silliness—and even an occasional narrative shock—that vaults this movie beyond the overdeveloped whimsy that has affected Anderson’s work since The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.
By the time of its 1968 framing story, the Grand Budapest Hotel has been robbed of its gingerbread design by a Soviet (or some similarly aesthetically challenged) occupier—the first of the film’s many comments on the importance of style.