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The Royal Tenenbaums

Starring Gene Hackman and Anjelica Huston; Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray and Danny Glover
Screenplay by Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson
Directed by Wes Anderson

IN SHORT: A very funny flick for grownup folk. [Rated R for some language, sexuality/nudity and drug content.]

Dysfunctional Family themed films are a dime a dozen, which is what makes The Royal Tenenbaums by writers Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson all the more remarkable. They've taken a format whose emotional peaks and valleys are usually huge and twisted them into a comedy. That they do it successfully is even more pleasing to us, 'cuz we haven't been in synch with their comedy stylings in the past -- Rushmore was just OK and their first film Bottle Rocket was just stoner comedy, which we had long outgrown. The Royal Tenenbaums is a winner. Either the pair's comedy has improved or we've learned to appreciate their jokes.

The Tenenbaum family is the kind that has money and doesn't show it off. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), long separated from his wife Etheline (Anjelica Huston) and kidlets Chas (Ben Stiller), Richie (Luke Wilson) and the adopted Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow). All three were remarkable kidlets -- Richie was a star tennis player. Margot wrote award winning plays and Chas made his fortune in real estate. But that was years ago. Margot hasn't written a plane in seven years. Richie hasn't played in six and Chas hasn't done much since wife Rachel died in a plane crash. He and his boys are the height of fashion in matching red Adidas sweatsuits None of 'em have had much to do with their dad in years. Until daddy-o, a convicted con-man and embezzler, comes knocking.

Royal wants back in because he's been told by his manservant, Pagoda (Kumar Pallana) that Etheline has received a marriage proposal from longtime friend, and accountant, Henry Sherman (Danny Glover). More to the point, Royal wants the whole family together, so everybody goes back into the house. As we say in the Tribe, oy. From that point on, The Royal Tenenbaums plays out like a series of vignettes. Each kidlet interacts. Mom interacts but there isn't a coherent whole to the family interaction. And while Hackman's character, using the description at the end of the last 'graph, isn't a nice guy, Hackman the actor shines as he takes all the nasty unpleasantness out of the man.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Royal Tenenbaums, he would have paid . . .


dateflick level. We saw The Royal Tenenbaums before its opening and put down a first draft. A computer crash wiped that out and when we tried to reconstruct what few notes we had taken, we couldn't. On second view, The Royal Tenenbaums is like cotton candy. We enjoyed the movie but don't have a lot to take away.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.