Total Recall

Owen Wilson's 10 Best Movies

We count down the best-reviewed work of the No Escape star.

by | August 26, 2015 | Comments

Indie classics, animated hits, well-reviewed dramas, and blockbuster comedies: Owen Wilson has done it all. This week, he makes a rare foray into action thriller territory opposite Pierce Brosnan in No Escape, so we knew this would be the perfect occasion to take a fond look back at some of the many critical highlights from a very prolific — and impressively varied —filmography. It’s time to pay tribute to the man who brought Marmaduke to life, Total Recall style!


 

 10. The Darjeeling Limited (2007) 69%

Darjeeling

Reuniting after the six-year layoff that followed The Royal Tenenbaums, frequent collaborators Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson paired up for 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited, a typically quirky dramedy about three eccentric brothers (played by Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman) who struggle — not always entirely successfully — to reconnect by taking a train ride across India in order to reunite with their mother (Anjelica Huston). While a troubling number of critics felt Darjeeling found Anderson settling into a rut, the majority felt that even if he was treading somewhat familiar ground, he managed to do it with style. Calling it “Arguably Wes Anderson’s most compassionate, mature film,” Nick Rogers of Suite101 credited the film with “[dancing] around disconcerting what-ifs: If they weren’t your brothers and sisters, would you voluntarily befriend them, or do you tolerate quirks and annoyances because blood links you?”

Watch Trailer


 

9. Inherent Vice (2015) 73%

Inherent

It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say Wilson’s had an easy time of it with critics lately — his recent duds include Are You Here and She’s Funny That Way — but he’s also made his mark in a few well-reviewed releases, including a brief appearance in The Grand Budapest Hotel and a more substantial supporting role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s star-studded adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Here, Wilson appears as Coy Harlingen, a man whose disappearance prompts his wife (Jena Malone) to hire the film’s P.I. protagonist (Joaquin Phoenix) to mount a search. The plot’s a whole lot messier than that — and critics seemed admittedly divided over just how successfully Anderson managed to wrestle it onto the screen — but even if they weren’t quite sure what to make of it, most enjoyed what they saw. “It is no exaggeration to say that this could become the new Big Lebowski,” wrote Helen O’Hara for GQ. “Something that will not just stand up to repeat viewings but positively reward every single rewatch of its twisted, lunatic glory.”

Watch Trailer


 

8. Cars (2006) 74%

Cars

At a comparatively paltry 74 percent on the Tomatometer, 2006’s Cars represented something of a critical setback for PIxar — but while the reviews that greeted this John Lasseter-directed tale of a young racecar (Owen Wilson) and his quest to wrest the Piston Cup from a pair of challengers (Michael Keaton and Richard Petty) weren’t up to the usual Pixar standard, audiences didn’t mind; it grossed over $460 million on its way to spawning a sequel (and a spinoff), and even if it didn’t measure up to Pixar’s previous, it was still good enough to earn praise from scribes like Chris Vognar of the Dallas Morning News, who wrote, “no other outfit can match Pixar’s knack for plucking heartstrings without tearing them off the frets.”

Watch Trailer


 

7. Wedding Crashers (2005) 76%

Wedding Crashers

Part of the R-rated comedy renaissance of the aughts, Wedding Crashers may not have given Wilson the opportunity to do anything new — here, he appears as John Beckwith, a soft-spoken lech with a heart of gold — but it played squarely to Wilson’s comedic gifts, had a solid Steve Faber/Bob Fisher script, and surrounded Wilson and his co-star, Vince Vaughn, with some terrific supporting talent, including Christopher Walken, Rachel McAdams, and Isla Fisher. Though some critics had problems with Crashers‘ uneven tone — and the scads of gratuitous flesh on display in the movie’s opening montage — most found it too much fun to resist. “The likes of the sneakily subversive Wilson and Vaughn deserve better,” wrote MaryAnn Johnson of Flick Filosopher, “but this is darn close to a perfect showcase for what they can do, and how much better they do it together.”

Watch Trailer


 

6. Shanghai Noon (2000) 79%

Shanghai Noon

Westerns and kung fu movies have enjoyed a close relationship for years, and that rich shared tradition is given a tongue-in-cheek salute with Shanghai Noon, an action-comedy that transcends its goofier elements (Lucy Liu plays the female lead, a character named Princess Pei-Pei) and delivers a well-rounded blend of humor, adventure, and — of course — jaw-dropping stunts. Jackie Chan stars as Chon Wang (say it out loud with a drawl), a Chinese imperial guard who is sent to Nevada to rescue the princess, kidnapped by agents of the villainous Lo Fong (Roger Yuan). Of course, no sooner has he arrived in Nevada than he gets tangled up with Roy O’Bannon (Owen Wilson), a rather inept outlaw who starts out hijacking Wang’s train and ends up becoming an invaluable ally in his quest. For some fans, Shanghai seemed at first like just another Americanized buddy project for Chan, who had already done this sort of thing with Chris Tucker in Rush Hour. Chan and Wilson proved a duo worth watching, though; on their way to a $99 million gross (and an eventual sequel), they earned praise from critics like the New York Times’ A.O. Scott, who wrote, “Shanghai Noon is, in classic western tradition, a celebration of male bonding, unabashedly juvenile, boyishly risqué and disarmingly sweet.”

Watch Trailer


 

5. The Royal Tenenbaums (2002) 80%

Tenenbaums

A year after breaking the box-office bank in Meet the Parents, Wilson and his frequent castmate reunited for a far less mainstream excursion into the oddball end of the comedy spectrum: Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. Co-writing the screenplay (about a mind-bendingly eccentric family whose overbearing, insensitive patriarch turns the lives of his children upside down) and appearing amidst an eyebrow-raising ensemble cast that also included Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, and his brothers Andrew and Luke, Wilson was at his quirkiest and most neurotic — in other words, at his best. While it wasn’t a huge hit at the box office, Tenenbaums fared well with most critics, including Geoff Pevere of the Toronto Star, who called it “An eloquent, eccentric and surprisingly touching tribute to the comic dignity of failure.”

Watch Trailer


 

4. Meet the Parents (2000) 84%

Meet the Parents

Ben Stiller is one of the kings of uncomfortable comedy, and few films have taken advantage of his gift for squirm-inducing laughs as brilliantly as Meet the Parents, the 2000 smash hit Jay Roach comedy about male nurse Gaylord “Greg” Focker (Stiller) and his painfully awkward (and/or just plain painful) attempts to make a good first impression on his girlfriend’s parents while dealing with the unexpected presence of her annoyingly perfect ex-boyfriend (Wilson). Featuring plenty of guffaw-worthy physical comedy and splendidly antagonistic chemistry between Stiller and Robert De Niro, Parents grossed over $500 million, spawning a franchise and earning the applause of critics like Time’s Richard Schickel, who chuckled, “Alas, poor Focker. He can’t help himself. And we can’t help ourselves from falling about, equally helpless, at this superbly antic movie.”

Watch Trailer


 

3. Bottle Rocket (1996) 85%

Bottle Rocket

Wilson cut his cinematic teeth in style with 1996’s Bottle Rocket, an indie darling that not only kicked off his big-screen acting career, but found him co-writing the first of three highly regarded screenplays (followed by Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums) with director Wes Anderson. Although it was a blip on the commercial radar, this cheerful crime comedy about a trio of Texans (Wilson, his brother Luke, and Robert Musgrave) whose rather inept first foray into armed robbery leads them into the path of an older, wiser thief (James Caan) was a favorite of critics like the Washington Post’s Desson Thomson, who called it “A hilarious, inventive and goofy breath of fresh air.”

Watch Trailer


 

2. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) 93%

Fantastic Fox

These days, it’s a rare animated film that doesn’t boast a star-studded cast, but most of them don’t attract the sort of award-hoarding talent that Wes Anderson lined up for Fantastic Mr. Fox, is stop-motion adaptation of the Roald Dahl book about a rascally fox (George Clooney) whose devotion to his wife (Streep) is tested by his need to have the last laugh against a trio of bloodthirsty farmers. Rounded out by an eclectic list of co-stars that included Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, and Owen Wilson, Fox thrilled critics like Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News, who called it “A visual treasure that successfully blends deadpan quirkiness with a wry realism rarely seen in any film, let alone one for children.”

Watch Trailer


 

1. Midnight in Paris (2011) 93%

Midnight in Paris

Following a fairly dire year that saw him surfacing in Little Fockers and providing the voice of Marmaduke, Wilson enjoyed a huge critical rebound with his starring performance in Midnight in Paris — a late-period smash hit for writer/director Woody Allen, who enjoyed some of the warmest reviews (and the highest grosses) of his career with the fantasy-infused comedic tale of an ennui-addled screenwriter who heads out for a melancholic walk on the streets of Paris and ends up taking much more of a journey than he bargained for. “Woody Allen seemed to have lost his fizz as a filmmaker of late,” observed Jason Best for Movie Talk, “and then he uncorked the sparkling Midnight in Paris, a comic fantasy with all the effervescence of vintage champagne.”

Watch Trailer


 

Finally, here’s Tom Hiddleston imagining what it might have sounded like if Owen Wilson had played Loki:

Tag Cloud

video reboot BAFTA Chilling Adventures of Sabrina classics all-time Awards CMT worst movies See It Skip It Travel Channel BBC America 20th Century Fox Black Mirror cooking Star Trek Crunchyroll thriller RT21 2020 Sundance TV james bond richard e. Grant Anna Paquin Comedy renewed TV shows Red Carpet latino Spike The Purge movies OWN Disney Plus 007 CNN BET Awards E3 cancelled Bravo strong female leads The CW animated Turner Classic Movies Epix Amazon Studios MSNBC fresh Mystery robots cats Holiday concert Endgame Adult Swim SDCC FX on Hulu justice league YouTube venice FOX Summer Esquire National Geographic CW Seed Thanksgiving Nominations LGBT DC streaming service dragons Certified Fresh Family Best and Worst christmas movies asian-american sag awards Lionsgate Columbia Pictures deadpool LGBTQ Mary Poppins Returns based on movie Musicals movie obituary zombies aliens screenings Nat Geo PaleyFest President quibi TNT Fox News dc sports Netflix Christmas movies independent Calendar Cannes comedies ID TV Land VH1 Netflix Apple TV+ 45 Trailer Tumblr Spectrum Originals Food Network festival period drama scary movies Star Wars Hallmark Christmas movies psycho black Amazon biography nfl finale indie cartoon binge Pixar TCA 2017 Heroines Turner IFC Films Rock DGA Amazon Prime Video Apple nbcuniversal breaking bad Lifetime Emmy Nominations Awards Tour Hear Us Out CBS All Access scorecard halloween Film zero dark thirty romantic comedy Musical chucky best supernatural Infographic APB docudrama Marathons NYCC space jamie lee curtis Showtime GLAAD Paramount Network Alien disaster natural history unscripted historical drama crime spanish E! MCU Pride Month TIFF Rocketman cancelled TV shows TV hollywood spider-man Pirates mockumentary Ovation Writers Guild of America Emmys Comics on TV french Set visit SXSW Fox Searchlight Oscars San Diego Comic-Con book blaxploitation Women's History Month screen actors guild die hard YouTube Red Election Disney Western crossover 2018 witnail Mudbound Universal X-Men Pop directors Fall TV Comic Book Disney Channel fast and furious Comedy Central cancelled television RT History DC Universe spanish language Tomatazos Mindy Kaling toy story game show Song of Ice and Fire Superheroe Ellie Kemper WarnerMedia parents game of thrones Nickelodeon news cinemax NBC Baby Yoda HBO Go TCA First Reviews rotten movies we love The Walking Dead Country PBS Captain marvel Ghostbusters Trivia BBC HBO Max Britbox ratings streaming Holidays sequels Creative Arts Emmys Logo versus indiana jones HBO USA Network Brie Larson japanese Arrowverse Kids & Family dramedy Year in Review serial killer Box Office documentaries Character Guide facebook The Witch Toys Opinion twilight Grammys El Rey Classic Film History USA halloween tv teaser Valentine's Day Horror Avengers Photos sequel Interview WGN TCM football spinoff Winter TV discovery television First Look canceled TV shows 71st Emmy Awards Masterpiece sitcom TBS doctor who a nightmare on elm street laika Television Academy comic books worst Video Games rotten anthology politics Superheroes universal monsters reviews blockbuster Tubi Winners mutant 72 Emmy Awards festivals Pet Sematary FX Super Bowl DirecTV cars tv talk Sci-Fi adaptation Discovery Channel mission: impossible dceu foreign Crackle TCA Winter 2020 Marvel Television BBC One Polls and Games ITV Cosplay Film Festival medical drama singing competition Television Critics Association ABC Family Rocky south america series Hallmark harry potter true crime Warner Bros. FXX ghosts Lucasfilm GIFs Martial Arts hispanic science fiction YouTube Premium 99% TLC travel boxoffice Academy Awards stoner nature casting Shondaland The Academy DC Comics Schedule AMC dark PlayStation American Society of Cinematographers Podcast cancelled TV series stand-up comedy IFC Spring TV technology ESPN police drama comics Paramount SundanceTV composers boxing dogs A24 Walt Disney Pictures OneApp Biopics Dark Horse Comics Drama spy thriller rt archives Peacock emmy awards 2016 Extras war TV renewals Disney+ Disney Plus The Arrangement superhero Chernobyl award winner crime drama documentary New York Comic Con golden globes joker elevated horror kids Stephen King YA Marvel Studios Trophy Talk Cartoon Network Hulu GoT A&E Pop TV Amazon Prime social media films cults TCA Awards Fantasy Countdown ABC VOD 21st Century Fox Premiere Dates what to watch Animation criterion Tarantino video on demand australia romance Black History Month Sundance slashers 24 frames Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Sony Pictures Elton John Watching Series children's TV werewolf Music TruTV Reality Competition critics VICE stop motion comiccon hist anime canceled italian Reality transformers 2019 Shudder MTV psychological thriller talk show Starz Acorn TV 4/20 Vudu Teen franchise toronto cops Sneak Peek vampires child's play Sundance Now Lifetime Christmas movies political drama name the review miniseries batman Marvel green book archives 2017 Christmas Binge Guide revenge Mary poppins adventure Action diversity Freeform CBS Mary Tyler Moore crime thriller Apple TV Plus spain Funimation theme song Syfy BET free movies Disney streaming service satire Rom-Com remakes zombie 2015 Quiz comic