Asteroid City is a dot-on-the-map desert town in the American Southwest. The year is 1955. The town's most famous attraction is a gigantic meteor crater and celestial observatory nearby. This weekend, the military and astronomers are welcoming five science award-winning children to display their inventions. Not far away, over the hills, mushroom clouds from atomic tests are seen.
The scene has been set for Wes Anderson's newest film, both a rollicking comedy, dazzling in creation, and packed to the brim with images for one to dart their eyes to and from, and also as deeply felt as any of Anderson's previous works.
What begins as a celebration to honor the achievements of the Junior Stargazers receives an unexpected visitor: an alien. Asteroid City is locked down and a fake cover story is concocted by the Army, but the precocious geniuses, in a way that calls to mind the youngsters of Spielberg classics, have a plan to get the word to the outside world.
Yet, in Anderson's inimitable way, the story is bigger than that. Back east, the characters of Asteroid City are on-stage, preparing a play that is called "Asteroid City." It is here that we venture backstage and into the lives of performers circa 1955. Theater actors polishing their craft, soon to become stars.
As funny as any of Anderson's works, to be sure, but more cosmic; an inward, personal examination of complex family relationships and new romances, parents and children, secrets, discoveries, and outwitting adults; the wide West and gray East, all in a perfect emotional balance that no one can strike better than Wes Anderson.
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