That he used Bill Murray in a small, yet important role seemed perfect to me. Still, my favorite Bill Murray role in one of his films remains Raleigh Sinclair. Also, iammyownrushmore you said,
Murray typically is a sardonic, flat-affected individual with odd motivations when he is more of the focus, but otherwise he is present in all of Anderson's films, even if just to be there. -Actually, Murray isn't in one of my favorite Wes Anderson Films, Bottle Rocket.
You also write, -I don't disagree that Anderson places style above all else. He consistently creates a Wes Anderson like world in all his films, some more heavy handedly than others. This one is certainly the heaviest. I'd say his film where his style was the most approachable from a realistic standpoint was Rushmore, which is probably why its near the bottom of the list for me regarding his films (though I still love it).
I enjoy being lost in Wes Anderson's quirky, over-stylized worlds; closets containing Javelina's, fencing clubs, lots of binoculars, jaguar sharks, odd artwork and unusual clothing. He throws you in to this amazing world of detail and color and when we are really lucky, he slowwwwwly takes us out of it:
This stylized world was at its most stylized in The Grand Budapest Hotel. In my opinion, this was likely because it's a retelling of a story. Older Zero is telling Jude Laws character his story. Jude Law then writes his book and it is being shown to us through an exaggerated telling. For example, Zero likely told him that his love "Agatha" had a birthmark on her face that looked like Mexico. Well..... in the film it literally looks like Mexico.
Zero may have mentioned that he had a purple uniform and Bam! Everyone in the retelling has purple uniforms. So, from an aesthetic standpoint it makes sense to me that it would be even more over the top than usual.
As for the story, I loved it. I enjoyed the relationship between M. Gustav and Zero, it's one that happens fast and asks the viewer to care about this relationship pretty quickly, but I loved them together from the first moment they shared a scene. When Zero asks if he should still go light the candles at the church on, I was hooked. I laughed a lot during this film, my biggest laugh likely came at the "take your hands off my lobby-boy" line.
Ralph Feinnes was brilliant in this. It may be my favorite performance in any WA film, which is saying something. My one criticism from an acting standpoint would be Adrian Brody. I'm just not a fan and hope WA stops using him in his films. I was also glad that Schwartzman had a diminished role.
Anyways, I liked the film a lot. If it was the first WA film I had ever seen I would be psyched about this awesome new director. Because I know his films so well, I think its a very good movie, not his best but I really enjoyed it.
Edit: actually, I need to edit something. The reason the style is so over-the-top is not just because we are seeing Jude Laws characters written interpretation of it, we are seeing his book as interpreted by a teenaged girls view of it.