HILLSBORO - What started as two self-described "geeks" planning a quick trip to the Hillsboro motel featured in their favorite movie quickly turned into an all-out party Saturday night.
Over 200 fans of the cult classic "Bottle Rocket," a locally filmed comedic gem that kicked off the careers of actors Owen and Luke Wilson and director Wes Anderson in the 1990s, descended on what is now the Days Inn in Hillsboro to support the motel and celebrate their love of the movie.
The comedy about three young, unexceptional friends who attempt to bring excitement to their lives by becoming criminals was filmed in Dallas, Fort Worth and Hillsboro. A large portion of the movie was filmed at the Hillsboro motel (then the Windmill Inn), where the friends "hid out" after stealing a small amount of money from a bookstore. Another notable local scene was filmed at a fireworks stand just west of Hillsboro.
While the film performed poorly at the box office when it was released in 1996, it was warmly received by a group of loyal fans who appreciated it for its quirkiness. Two such fans, Andy Carl Valentin and Chris Durbin of Arlington, inadvertently brought about Saturday’s gathering.
Andy initially planned the trip as a birthday gift for Chris. The friends, who enjoy working on short films and a podcast in their spare time, decided to stay in room 212—the same room Dignan (Owen Wilson), Anthony (Luke Wilson) and Bob (Robert Musgrave) booked in the film.
When Andy tried to book a room online, he says he discovered that online reservations were not available due to the motel’s financial difficulties. He called the motel directly to book a room, and then he posted information about the plans on Facebook and on a Wes Anderson fan site.
Andy and Chris did not expect what happened over the course of the next month. "We thought it was just going to be a few friends," said Andy. But the media quickly picked up on the story, and many of the film’s loyal fans were soon mobilized with a plan to "Save the Bottle Rocket Motel."
"Then we got an email from Tim League of the Alamo Drafthouse and we thought it was a joke," Andy said. League, a founder of the popular Austin-based theater, traveled to Hillsboro with the Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow to project "Bottle Rocket" on the roadshow’s huge inflatable screen on the grounds of the motel. The Alamo Drafthouse also unveiled a new Bottle Rocket poster created just for the event and sold copies to fans.
Proceeds from the movie tickets and poster sales were donated to the motel, according to League, who called "Bottle Rocket" his favorite comedy of all time.
Robert Musgrave thrilled fans by traveling from his home in Dallas to watch the film alongside them near the motel’s pool. As darkness fell and fans set up lawn chairs in front of the big screen, Musgrave signed autographs, posed for pictures and talked about being back at "the Bottle Rocket motel."
"Wes (Anderson) and I drove around to three or four different spots looking for a quaint, out of the way motel like this," Musgrave said. "We thought it was really charming and really cool."
During his first visit to the motel since making the movie, Musgrave discussed the film’s appeal. "I think what made this different from a lot of Hollywood movies is that we were all just innocent buddies," he said.
Andy, who became a fan of "Bottle Rocket" as a teenager when the movie was first released to video, attributes the film’s cult following to its humor and the way fans can easily relate to it. "Everybody’s got a little bad in them," he said.
The trio’s humorous attempt at breaking into a life of crime is something the audience could see happening to their own friends if they ever attempted such things. "It’s what would happen to any normal person if they did that," Andy said.
While the film failed to find commercial success, it did receive its share of attention. Director Martin Scorsese called it one of his favorite films of the 1990s, and Roger Ebert admitted that he had a "certain affection for it."
Positive or negative, reviews mean little to the film’s faithful, who stuck white medical tape to their noses Saturday night to mimic the unnecessary and ineffective disguise the film’s characters chose to sport during the heist.
Andy and Chris spent time conducting interviews for a documentary they plan to make about the event, giving tours of the locations seen in the film and chatting with other fans.
"What a cool thing Andy and Chris have done," Musgrave said as he looked out over the crowd before the film started. "These guys deserve a lot of credit for working to save this really cool little spot.
Last Edit: Jul 16, 2011 12:12:25 GMT -5 by iluvtexas