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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 Brian McKay

"Wes Anderson wins the Trifecta"
5 stars

The man who brought us "Bottle Rocket" and "Rushmore" is up to more of the same lovely nuttiness with "The Royal Tenenbaums". Anyone who didn't like either of those previous films need not apply, because while TRT is more polished than either of those films, it's also much more eccentric.

Even if you don't know the name "Wes Anderson", His directorial stink from "Rushmore" certainly permeates this film, and is even kicked up a notch or two. TRT is the story of an overachieving and dysfunctional family, the Tenenbaums, of which Royal is the non-supportive patriarch and womanizing husband (Gene Hackman in an oscar-caliber performance). Etheline Tanenbaum (Angelica Houston) is the embittered ex-wife who is left to raise the three children. Each is a child prodigy who has since grown up and fallen on hard times, and each has major issues that trace back to Royal's condescending attitude and later abandonment after Etheline kicks him out. As adults, each one harbors a particular nueroses.

Chas (Ben Stiller) is obsessively overprotective of his two boys after losing his wife in a plane crash. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), a formerly "brilliant" playwright, now has writer's block, engages in a lot of experimental sex, and hides her smoking habit from everyone. Richie (Luke Wilson), a former tennis star, suffers a meltdown upon realizing that he is in love with Margot (his adopted sister), who has just married a psychologist (Bill Murray). Under one pretext or another, each of them ends up returning to the family home to stay for a while. Meanwhile, Eli Cash (Owen Wilson), Richie's childhood friend from across the street, also returns. Now a semi-prominent writer, he does a lot of coke and gets it on with Margot behind Richie's back.

As if things in the house weren't insane enough, Royal comes back to stay after being MIA for the past 7 years. He uses the excuse that he is dying of cancer and wants to reconcile with the family that he has wronged, although the truth is that he is broke and has been booted from the hotel where he was staying. Royal takes the opportunity to try and meddle in his kids' lives, while also trying to win Etheline away from her new suitor, Henry Sherman (Danny Glover).

Though the film certainly takes its time building up to the laughter, it pays off handsomely. Unlike most comedies of the day, this one doesn't go for the quick or cheap laugh. It takes its time, putting on layers and layers of quirks and idiosyncracies, sucking you into the the bizarre little world of the Tanenbaum home and then making you laugh when it's good and ready to.

Wes Anderson's script and direction are nearly impeccable here, and the entire cast pulls it off superbly. Like one of the Tanenbaums themselves, the Tanenbaum house is just as much a character, with it's own strange personality that harbors an interesting assortment of rooms, niches, passageways, and cubbyholes. One of my favorites was the "game closet", a closet whose shelves are full of old board games from floor to cieling, where a few of the characters go for clandestine conversations.

Despite its occasionally dark and heavy themes, TRT is foremost a comedy. While Anderson is obviously growing as both a writer and director, he stays true to his style of filmmaking, which is almost a genre unto itself. It would certainly be a dis if this didn't get at least a few nods come Oscar time.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5670&reviewer=258
originally posted: 01/01/02 10:09:45
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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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