Rick Dabagian’s review:
Wes Anderson's first feature, and the first of his that I've seen from start to finish. I liked the story and the characters, and for a first time director it was really well done.
What I didn't enjoy was some of the "quirky" humor, though I can't think of the right word to describe it. It's those off kilter comments that seem funny because of what the audience knows, I don't find that amusing at all. Luckily there were some honestly funny moments as well, but the rest of the "jokes" really bothered me because I don't think they are funny. The example I think best sums up what I mean, and you'll have to have seen the movie to understand, but the letter Anthony writes to Grace: "I do have one bit of advice for you, though Grace. Take the time in school to learn a foreign language. I myself never did , and I feel I've paid a price for it." The last sentence is almost corny enough to make it funny, but there were a few lines like this that got on my nerves.
I read Rogert Ebert's review from 1996 and he says he didn't like the movie too much, but he was looking forward to what Anderson and the Wilsons do in the future. I feel the same way but I'm wary because what I've seen from the rest of Anderson's movies it looks like he only gets weirder, and I don't think "weird" on its own is funny. We'll see.