The Grand Budapest Hotel Review (And Drinking Game)

  • Wes Anderon’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel is currently in theatres– and it’s worth raising a glass.

Last night I experienced Wes Anderson’s latest filmic endeavour The Grand Budapest Hotel, and even though I had only seen one trailer, and had no idea what to expect from the story, with Anderson at the helm, I also knew exactly what sort of a ride I might be in for.

Anyone who has seen a palmful of the darling fare that he’s served up in the past knows what I’m talking about—the famous Anderson aesthetic.

It’s a dry wit, retrograde hipster dream. Highly stylized, with special attention paid to colour and offbeat pauses, smattered with famous faces. Everything is put together with an eye for unreality.

However, unlike some other directors who begin to lean on style over substance (here’s looking at you, Tim Burton), the more vintage, the more quirk, the more it just seems to work.

In fact, The Grand Budapest Hotel stands just like the Courtesan au Chocolat pastries made Saoirse Ronan’s character Agatha in the movie: colourful, curious, piled high and made with no small degree of painstaking sweat.

Such creative consistency should be lauded—or at least turned into a ridiculous drinking game.

There are potential plot spoilers below, so if you simply want a review, here you go: If you like Wes Anderson’s style, you will like this. You might even love it. It was great, it was entertaining, go see it.

Let’s carry on, shall we?


You can totally use beer for this. In fact, anything harder might destroy you if you want to play all the way until the end. That being said, no ordinary brew will do. It should be craft beer of some kind, infused with something exotic like lavender or papaya. Nothing goes with film kitsch like alcoholic kitsch.

If you miss one drinking penalty, it’s best to move on immediately. The pacing of this flick is wicked fast and when the moment is gone, it’s long gone. Let it go and stop trying to call your friend out because you’re going to completely miss the charm of the dialogue and the next 10 drinking cues.

Easy, right?


#1. Any time voice-over is used, take a drink. The plot of The Grand Budapest Hotel is a story, within a story, within another story. It’s about a writer, spinning the tale of how he was told by Mr. Zero Moustafa the story of how he came to own The Grand Budapest Hotel. Confused? Think of a Russian doll, one inside of another, and that’s basically how the plot works. Cheers.

#2. Drink any time you see a title card for a new chapter. Just like a book, different sections of the film have different titles. This is a gorgeous detail which adds to the spirit of storytelling in which I’d like to think the film was made.

In the same way we exaggerate in the stories we tell our friends, the Russian doll frame makes this film Anderson’s personal playground and lets him get totally weird. He gets to have fun and run wild, and we reap the benefits. Bad guy Willem Dafoe rocks fangs, brass knuckles and throws a cat out of a window, there’s a high speed chase scene on a sled and skis, and a secret society of high class hotel concierges playing telephone tag.

#3. Any time Ralph Fiennes swears, drink. Fiennes is positively riotous and charismatic as M. Gustave, the film’s centrepiece and protagonist. No one else could have pulled off this role the way he does. He’s got panache which he flings around with so much energy and heart that he wins you instantly. Any time you see this upholder of Old World grace and servitude give in to some good old-fashioned profanity, it’s time for a toast.

#4. Drink any time you see someone who’s too absurdly famous (or maybe, just famous enough) to be in the tiny part that they’re playing, especially if they’re on your Anderson alumni bingo card.

#5. When something absolutely terrible or horrifying happens and no one bats an eyelash. There’s a moment when police show up at the hotel to investigate a murder, and Zero confesses that he was once tortured and interrogated by his ex-country’s rebel militia, and thus, knows how to be questioned by the authorities.

“Right, well you know the drill then,” remarks M. Gustave, unphased. “Zip it.”

This is Andersonian canon. Remember in Moonrise Kingdom when AWOL Khaki Scout Sam Shakusky gets struck by lightning and nobody freaks out? Or when Margot Tenenbaum shrugs off losing a finger? Budapest delivers even more of these absurdist moments. Sure, I hear you, it’s a movie, suspend your skepticism and enjoy it, right? I’m just sayin’, if you need an excuse to drink, this is it.

#6. Any time there’s a crash zoom, take a drink. You could get smashed on this rule alone. For those of you short on your film school knowledge, a crash zoom is a regular zoom, just a lot quicker, used for dramatic impact. With the pacing at such wicked speeds, this film has them in spades.

#7. Any time you laugh about something that you probably shouldn’t be laughing at, take a drink. The Grand Budapest Hotel is rife with dark humour, and you might find yourself cracking up at otherwise inappropriate moments. For this one, I’m going to hand it to Jeff Goldblum’s character and leave it at that.

#8. Take a shot when Bill Murray makes his cameo. Why? Because he’s Bill bloody Murray with a high calibre moustache—and if that’s not worth a drink, nothing is.

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