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Overall Rating
4.15

Awesome56.6%
Worth A Look: 23.58%
Average: 7.55%
Pretty Bad: 2.83%
Total Crap: 9.43%

14 reviews, 128 user ratings


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Royal Tenenbaums, The
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by Chris Parry

"The blooming of one of American cinemas more promising directorial careers"
5 stars

It takes a certain kind of person to get where Wes Anderson is coming from. There's a deliberate, almost balletic quality to his work that runs through everything from the music, the staging, the performances, the humor and the dialogue, which anyone who has obsessed over the making of a film can only appreciate immensely. Even the opening frames of The Royal Tenenbaums feature this tinge of theater and that unique, original cinematic styling serves to Anderson's film interesting even during times when the story may lag. The humor is dark, sophisticated and quirky, and the results have been some of the most memorable comedy films of the last ten years. The Royal Tenenbaums is the peak of this prowess.

Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) is a cad. He raised three genius children, but he's still a cad. An attorney who has fallen on hard times, mostly because he was sued by his financial whizkid son Chas (Ben Stiller), disbarred and briefly imprisoned, he's about to be kicked out of his hotel room without a cent to his name. His family, who haven't spoken to him in years, aren't too keen to break with old habits and bring him back into the fold, at least until Royal decides to pretend that he's dying of cancer.

Forced back together out of circumstance, the three children, Chas, playwright genius Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) and tennis champion Richie (Luke Wilson), as well as their archeologist mother Eveline (Anjelica Huston), struggle to come to terms not just with their new roommate, but also their own inner quirks, demons and particular brand of genius.

But to hell with the story, because that's secondary in a Wes Anderson film (though far from neglected). What is of paramount importance are the characters, the humor and the ambience of the piece.

Anderson takes things a step further, miring his cast in a sort of 70's time warp, which was the time when their 'genius' was heralded by the masses. As time has passed, their genius has faded, and their styles (Chas' Adidas tracksuit and Richie's Bjorn Borg tennis gear being standouts) have failed to keep up with the modern day.

With a cast including names like Hackman, Huston, Wilson I, Wilson II, Stiller, Paltrow, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, even character actors like Seymour Cassel, and narrator Alec Baldwin, even the most middling screenplay would surely get a few kicks upstairs simply from the wow factor of those involved.

Ands so it should. Each of these characters has their own story, or even stories, each of them is funny in their own way, and each of them could potentially have been the main character in this piece without losing any of the pacing, meaning or appeal.

In keeping with Anderson's love of the theater and classic film, each character in the film is assigned a musical instrument with which their scenes are scored, a la Peter and the Wolf. The opening sequences, which spend a good quarter hour giving the sort of in-depth backstory that opens things with a bang, are a direct homage to The Magnificent Ambersons (not Kubrick, as certain people have asserted). But these influences are not restricted to works from the early 20th century - music from The Ramones punctuates one montage scene, and a scene in which Bill Murray's character performs an experiment on a mentally messed up kid is a nod to a similar scene in Murray's breakout film Ghostbusters.

Look, it's easy to make a movie. We can say "Hey, Commando got me hard and Arnold was cool - five stars!", or we can recognise that cranking out the same old cookie cutter formulas is really not filmmaking at all; rather, it's large scale content production. A film like this, one with nuances and reason and hidden meaning and humor that doesn't light up a big red light that says "laugh now" takes hard work, intelligence and patience, on both the filmmaker's and audience's part. If you're not up to the challenge, then feel free to go rent Freddy vs Jason.

Wes Anderson has created his own inimitable style, which while it might borrow from other filmmakers (honestly, what filmmaker doesn't?), it has over the course of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and this film become one of the most recognisable, easy to appreciate and successful stylings in modern day cinema. A Wes Anderson film is a challenge in every way, and that is why I will devote my time and money to paying for a ticket whenever he has a new film on the market.

Bravo. More please.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5670&reviewer=1
originally posted: 03/04/04 22:41:11
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User Comments

4/08/14 Ldndrvdv USA 4 stars
3/30/14 PAUL SHORTT QUIRKY, CLEVER COMEDY 3 stars
2/06/14 Qtuzclvo USA 3 stars
2/03/14 Dxyrlryn USA 4 stars
1/26/14 Dpnqqxez USA 4 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* A wonderful dark humor movie. Favorite part "Look at that old grizzley bear" 4 stars
7/04/09 Gristle So fucking empty and utterly boring 1 stars
11/11/08 Brian I'm addicted to this movie. One of the best comedies ever. Hilarious and beautiful. 5 stars
9/03/07 Quigley Well-scripted, well-acted and visually inventive comedy. Hackman should have won an Oscar. 5 stars
2/06/07 nmedina Ive seen it over 100 times and have decide like Eli Cash to be a Tenenbaum. 5 stars
1/09/07 Drew Galletti Extremely well done, though I need to revisit still 3 stars
1/09/07 Tulip O'Hare Completely don't get why this is supposed to be good. I just found it slow and snarky. 2 stars
11/03/06 Bitchflaps I hated Rushmore, but this is excellent. 4 stars
10/12/06 The Hugh Hilarious and Tragic 5 stars
8/11/06 M. Mirliss According to EFC, my film criticism skills are worse than Kelly Palma's...suicide time. 5 stars
4/06/06 Wholy Crapman Wacky, yet believable and lovable characters. Just what Anderson does best 5 stars
3/19/06 MP Bartley Hackman is terrific, but Anderson (as ever) keeps us too distant from the characters. 4 stars
1/09/06 sdg sdg boring 1 stars
7/31/05 yuko hilarious, adorable and a little bit of sadness 5 stars
6/14/05 E-FUNK A Beautiful, hilarious, heart-felt film. I didn't think he could top Rushmore, I was wrong. 5 stars
6/08/05 John Aster Habig a movie that looks at the true meaning of family and love 5 stars
5/26/05 Jake Not as good as Rushmore but still very good 4 stars
5/13/05 mitch Kelly Palma can't handle "reel" comedy 5 stars
1/16/05 Abbath Nice, quirky comedy/drama. Well written with great characters. 5 stars
12/30/04 DM Funny, unique and strangely poignant. 4 stars
11/09/04 Chris McElheney the best movie ive ever seen! i love it. 5 stars
11/01/04 erika my name is erika tenenbaum which is preety fnny i thought the movie was just awsome 5 stars
9/12/04 R.W. Welch Has a certain style but mostly played too slow and low key. 3 stars
8/04/04 Stefan Good comedy thats very funny but gladly doesn't laugh at its self if u know what i mean 4 stars
7/30/04 Josh Standlee So sh*tty, it made Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Bill Murray look bad! 1 stars
7/12/04 Recurring Dream i was very entertained and amused by those great little touches in the background. 4 stars
7/05/04 Erin Great!!! 5 stars
7/02/04 Daveman Gracefully crafted and shot with wonderfully subtle dark humor. 4 stars
6/28/04 Bobby da Squid Wonderful cast, NYC-but-not-NYC, amazing rich, detailed visuals - one of my favs 5 stars
4/26/04 Lord Jiggy A slow build...earns your laughter, respect, and affection. Worth full price. 5 stars
3/27/04 Melissa Gaugert If you like Ben Stiller comedy, you'll love it, like I did! Wacky!! 4 stars
3/24/04 Margie i don't think i got it, cuz i was more creeped out than anything... and i didn't laugh :-( 2 stars
3/17/04 Holly Beeman What can I say? Wes Anderson is the man. Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, etc.! 5 stars
3/09/04 Wendranh didn't feel any connection to the characters at all 2 stars
2/26/04 Sean What comedy should aspire to be. One of the best. 5 stars
2/07/04 charlie ace 5 stars
1/30/04 Jack Bourbon Garp-guy wannabes. 3 stars
1/28/04 Tom Brilliant, a rare gem 5 stars
1/27/04 lonesome_whistle A funny, quirky, touching movie 4 stars
1/27/04 Jay This movie was a waste of money and time 1 stars
6/26/03 cochese No one else said it, so I will. "The Royal Piece of Shit" 1 stars
5/13/03 scottyrobotty more funny lines than any movie in the last 10 years. perfect 5 stars
4/21/03 Skankin' inThePit Great movie/acting/directing--Anderson is a favorite along with Richard Kelly in my book 5 stars
3/23/03 Winthrop J Applesmythe III the reviewer is on crack. SEE THIS MOVIE. 5 stars
2/11/03 Alex Pérez Córdova It´s an excelent movie 5 stars
1/06/03 Karen Great movie! 5 stars
12/16/02 Jimmy Snuka This movie is as awesome as me off the top rope!!! 5 stars
12/09/02 Goofy Maxwell Bitter fruit grows on this family tree. But magnificent Anderson tells such a sweet tale. 4 stars
12/03/02 mr. Pink brilliant! Anderson fulfills his promise that he had with debut Bottle Rocket. Great! 5 stars
12/02/02 Gruther waste of time 2 stars
11/28/02 Zack W. Young A pervesely terrific cast and brilliant writing and direction make this a rare modern gem. 5 stars
11/28/02 Lady who hates romantic comedies The Wilson brothers rock - Gwyneth does not 4 stars
11/04/02 Nerf_Herder Sad, funny, bitersweet and everything in between 5 stars
10/30/02 spacecowboy I really enjoyed this. 5 stars
10/28/02 mike bernotas One thing about this guy's movies.... you can almost feel the season's 5 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 The best family movie ever made. They didn't have to kill poor ol' Buckley, though. 5 stars
9/29/02 royal tenenbaum sweet 5 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock I think people mistake smart-arse stuff for brilliance 1 stars
9/15/02 Monster W. Kung Competently made and acted, but not very funny at all. 3 stars
8/25/02 Roberto Donati Is Anderson the new american talent? 4 stars
8/07/02 Banky Edwards What a weird and funny movie!!! I really enjoyed it and giggled like a fool throughout! 5 stars
8/05/02 Lexy Z. Bitchin.' 5 stars
8/01/02 Christopher Inspired, wonderful, touching, funny. 5 stars
7/27/02 karen goldstein i didn't laugh once - she was in love with her brother! Yuck!!!! 1 stars
7/23/02 erick prolly fav. of the year, and def. in my top 5, watch its awesome 5 stars
7/16/02 Caiphn Just watched it again, still my favorite movie this year. 5 stars
7/15/02 The Bomb 69 I caught myself laughing at the small, minute points, if you pay attention it will delight 4 stars
7/14/02 Phil M. Aficionado Quirky, funny, and cutting edge. A truly meaningful dark comedy with ACTING 4 stars
7/12/02 Punk_Ass At first I was like WTF?? but it grew on me as the movie progressed. wierd/entertaining 4 stars
6/19/02 Oscar Smart, Funny, and full of substance 5 stars
5/27/02 PeterGibbons Art house? You frat boys are a riot. I wanna do mescaline! 5 stars
5/27/02 Nicole If you like dry humor and pay attention to the detail in the movie, you will enjoy! 4 stars
5/19/02 Chowie pretty good, owen and luke kick arse 4 stars
5/15/02 hbotis@hotmail.com nice, very nice, but not great. Huston is great 4 stars
3/27/02 dsmart American arthouse : odd, not funny, pointless 1 stars
3/23/02 Guy Forssman 0/100 there should be a law against this kind of movies 1 stars
3/19/02 Simeon Briggs Best film of the year 5 stars
3/18/02 Caiphn Worth watching. Excellent review, Collin Souter. 4 stars
3/14/02 Roy Smith Left after 20 minutes - boring and sad. People liked this? 1 stars
3/12/02 spaceworm Want to see it again. Gene's a Machine. 5 stars
3/02/02 Unagiboy The scene with the "Bikers" paintings was classic! 5 stars
3/01/02 Butterbean Hackman was incredible, this movie was entertaining. 4 stars
2/24/02 tforce academic films about neurosis are better than this 1 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Nicely entertaining. Some laughs, too. 4 stars
2/20/02 luda hoe the characters are brilliant, the script is smart, the laughs are genuine. 5 stars
2/19/02 Zach movie of the year, hands down. 5 stars
2/18/02 m i like it more each day that passes. i want to see it again, if only for the paintings. 4 stars
2/17/02 AgentDS Disturbingly entertaining 4 stars
2/17/02 Meryl K. Awesome. Stiller and Hackman are incredible. See the movie, see it right now. 5 stars
2/16/02 Phredrick Dobbs Exquisite 5 stars
2/11/02 Chelley Whom ever doesn't like this film doesn't deserve to live. 5 stars
2/11/02 Jimmy James excellent! quirky and funny 5 stars
2/11/02 Greg Jones By far the best movie of the year. 5 stars
2/06/02 Weeblerelf Intricate, beautiful!! My new favorite!! Just beautiful! 5 stars
2/02/02 dulac76 The guy who wrote this review must have seen an entirely different film than I did. 2 stars
1/28/02 arisa renewed my senses... 5 stars
1/27/02 Artist Freak This movie underwhelmed me immensely. SOme funny bits, but no point that I could see. 2 stars
1/25/02 Slitchard Richmond Insular and precious, but gloriously and sweetly so. Tender and melancholic. 5 stars
1/24/02 Paco Great emotional themes, performances and soundtrack. Far better than the overrated Rushmor 4 stars
1/22/02 The Man Best film since "American Beauty" 5 stars
1/18/02 Mister Char i just didn't see what was so terrific about it, maybe i missed something, good cast though 3 stars
1/15/02 Carly I had really high expectations. Solid, but no Rushmore. 4 stars
1/13/02 The Boy In The Designer Bubble Strange that nearly everyone in this movie has a famous relative? 1 stars
1/11/02 Robert Odd, touching, clever, but in the end, unsatisfying. Not much insight or feeling at the end 4 stars
1/08/02 wintermute Wow. 2002 is already heaps better than 2001. Bring it On! 5 stars
1/06/02 jeffrey flood wondreful wicked satire 5 stars
1/06/02 The Man Superb- great performances. A film with a style to call its own 5 stars
1/05/02 specialK no Rushmore, but had 4(?) alumni. didn't meet expectations 3 stars
1/05/02 raiven an unfunny waste of film, cast and TIME, trying SOOO hard to be eccentric and clever. 1 stars
1/05/02 rue the whirl i predict this will get better with repeated viewings 4 stars
1/04/02 John This isn't just a a movie. It's *film*. This is easily the funniest and best movie so far 5 stars
1/04/02 Superdave Excellent acting, somewhat funny, but no story and very strange, but in a bad way 3 stars
1/03/02 This movie's awsome! Y2k2 I loved this movie, actually I havn't seen it yet, but since Owen's in it, it must be good. 5 stars
1/02/02 jim-bob one hot asian masseuse in it, and one tit-shot. 3 stars
12/31/01 poetchuck An afternoon nap would have been a better use of time 1 stars
12/31/01 Thor-Leo Brilliant, perfectly pitched, almost every scene a jewel. 5 stars
12/30/01 LZ "Interesting..." 4 stars
12/29/01 Jason Fessel This movie rules. It is totally entertaining and funny. It is easy to get absorbed into ch 5 stars
12/23/01 frank i didn't think it was better than RUSHMORE, but it was close. 5 stars
12/19/01 Heather Full of dry humor and great characters, one of the year's best 5 stars
12/16/01 ajay rushmore was great, this is just as good. 5 stars
12/16/01 Emily great 5 stars
12/15/01 Boomshanka Better than Rushmore. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Dec-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  14-Mar-2002




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