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Film Studies 101
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Gene Hackman
Angelica Huston
Ben Stiller
Gwyneth Paltrow
Luke Wilson
Bill Murray
Owen Wilson.
Directors
Wes Anderson.
Screenwriters
Wes Anderson.
Running Time
110 minutes

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The Royal Tenenbaums
With a great premise and an all-star cast, Wes Anderson has done it again with one of the cleverest comedies to happen along in ages


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Plot
The child prodigies of the Tenenbaum family - Chas, Margot and Richie - have fallen on hard times in adulthood, something they blame on their estranged father, Royal. However, when he announces that he has only weeks to live, the family is reunited for the first time in years.


Review
For all its critical adoration, Wes Anderson's last film, the quirky 1998 comedy Rushmore, was a genuine love-it-or-loathe-it experience. Chances are that if you fell into the latter category, The Royal Tenenbaums will have a similar effect - for this is yet another reminder that a trip into Wes' world is riddled with offbeat eccentricities, damaged, dysfunctional characters and the kind of weird, wonderful comedy that comes along all too rarely.

While not a film for everybody, there's no doubt that this is a dazzlingly original piece of work. It's a more accomplished film than Rushmore, sharing many similar themes and ideas while at the same time taking the comic complexities of its characters to new levels.

Hackman, who nabbed a Golden Globe for his performance as the curmudgeonly Royal Tenenbaum, is as good here as he's ever been. When we first meet him, we learn through a narrator that he is now living in a hotel, away from his family. His wife, Etheline, who is being romanced by colleague Henry (Danny Glover) - the closest thing this film has to a 'normal' character - wants nothing to do with him, and his children blame him entirely for their hang-ups.

One-time financial whizz kid Chas, recently widowed, protects his two sons in a fortress-like setting; Margot, an award-winning playwright, hasn't put pen to paper for seven years; and former tennis ace Richie is on a boat in the middle of nowhere.

Royal's desire to be accepted as a parent serves as the catalyst to reunite these lost souls, who gather at the family home on learning he is dying and come to terms with their losses and repressed feelings.

None of this sounds like material for a rip-roaring comedy, but Anderson and Wilson's smart screenplay relies more on small subtleties, obtuse one-liners and quirks by the dozen, while never insulting the intelligence of its audience. And the sight gags are superb ù witness Richie mooching around in a headband, or Stiller dressing his sons in matching tracksuits exactly like the one he wears.

It's a testament to Anderson's pulling power that he can attract such a good team of players with only his third film, suggesting that he may well go on to rival the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson in the ensemble cast stakes.

While not everybody has a great deal to do, the whole cast is fabulous and every character is memorable - from Bill Murray as Paltrow's kindly but rather dull hubby, to Owen Wilson's inspired turn as a drug-addled novelist, desperate to be a part of the Tenenbaum clan. However, the wackiness is undercut with an element of pure poignancy, making the film's slower moments almost heartbreaking and reminding us that sometimes human tragi-comedy can be the most effective of all. While this isn't a world you would have any wish to inhabit, it's one you do find hard to leave. Yet for all its sadness, Anderson still comes up with a final pay-off which will leave you chuckling long after the credits roll.


Verdict
No year would be complete without an offbeat comedy, and chances are you won’t see another like this in 2002. Tenenbaums boasts the same sense of the bizarre that made Rushmore and Being John Malkovich such hits — and, like those two, it’s one of the cleverest comedies to happen along in ages.


Reviewed by Caroline Westbrook

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Royal Tenenbaums
Empire Star Rating

tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265666/]The Royal Tenenbaumses Anderson`s masterful portrait of a disfunctional family is hard to describe. It`s at the same time a hartwarming comedy and a tearjerker. Anderson knows how to find that balance very well and makes sure that neither is too much. Right at the moment that you feel the drama is becoming too much you`ll get a lovely comic scene and vice versa. In this he gets help from a brilliant all-star cast who all give career-best performances, with Ben... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 20:44, 16 September 2012 | Report This Post


Bizarre and incredibly real. You'll never see anything like this.

Awesome, exotic, funny and moving. One of the finest movies of indie cinema. A Great Movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 03:34, 07 January 2010 | Report This Post


Heartbraeking and heartwarming at the same time. The most accurate potryal of family I have ever seen. A great cast given a great script to make their own. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rfoynes at 20:00, 17 December 2009 | Report This Post


The first words I can think of in connection with this movie are: strange and slow. But still, it has some funny parts and as Ben Stiller is in it, I'll give it three stars... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FanaticalAboutFilm at 15:03, 06 November 2009 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

A excellent film filled with great performances. Gwyneth Paltrow is beautiful. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mrdoom14 at 13:52, 30 June 2007 | Report This Post


RE:

p;pect many will dismiss Anderson’s Magnus Opus as one of two things. ‘Quirky’ or ‘insubstantial’. They are, in no uncertain terms, wrong. Yes the film is offbeat, innovative and original, quirky even, and yes the production design is near saturated with wondrous stylistic flourishes. But, crucially, this is not a case of style ngnce. This is style ng ce. For every Dalmatian mouse, we get a fantastically realised character, for every kitsch tableau, we get a wonderful moment of human interactio... More

Posted by Grandma Death at 13:20, 30 June 2007 | Report This Post


Fantastic

color] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Grandma Death at 13:19, 30 June 2007 | Report This Post


Wes Anderson strikes gold again! The whole cast is uniformly excellent and Hackman is outstanding. Five stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cujo at 17:03, 30 March 2006 | Report This Post


Hackman's quixotic character anchor's the film. And then there's the array of quirky misfits that are Royal's disjointed family. So original, so fresh, this film could have been created by no one other than Wes Anderson. It's a masterpiece of comic dysfunction. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mingusman at 19:41, 19 March 2006 | Report This Post


RE: The Royal Tenenbaums

I thought this film would be pretty crap as there was never much going on, but it actually suprised me. The casting was fantastic. I wouldn't mind owning this, to think about it. ... More

Posted by AgentGoth at 08:16, 15 February 2006 | Report This Post


RE: The Royal Tenenbaums

ell I thought it was great, an excellent cast, and a witty script which might just be a little ]dry for everyones taste. I didn't think it plodded along, maybe it takes a bit too long with the beginning narration and the introduction of all the members of the Tenenbaum family, but after that I thought the pace was pretty spot on. I have to give particular praise to Gene Hackmans performance as Royal Tenenbaum, he brought a real depth to a role that could have just come across as a cantank... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Indio at 08:04, 15 February 2006 | Report This Post


I didn't enjoy this film as much as other people it seems. I thought the characters were dull and that the film plodded along. It had its moments, but overall it's a film I could do without watching again. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lulu karma at 02:31, 15 February 2006 | Report This Post



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