Monday, June 4, 2012

963. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Running Time: 109 minutes
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson
Main Cast: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow
Click here to view the trailer


"The Royal Tenenbaums", get this, tells the story of the Tenenbaum family, a wealthy, eccentric crew who are headed up by patriarch Royal (Hackman), the estranged father of the bunch, who separated from his wife Etheline (Huston) when the Tenenbaum children were fairly young. There are three Tenenbaum children, each raised (almost) solely by their mother and who would grow up to be prodigies, in their own right. Chas Tenenbaum (Stiller) is a genius in international finance, who would go on to sue his father on two separate occasions and have him disbarred for stealing from him. Margot Tenenbaum (Paltrow) is the adopted daughter and a famous playwright, who could never gain her father's approval and who is constantly reminded that she isn't a true Tenenbaum. Lastly, there's Richie Tenenbaum (L. Wilson) a.k.a. "The Baumer", a renowned tennis pro, who had a nervous breakdown in his last professional match. During the beginning stages of the film, all three Tenenbaum children find their way back under Etheline's roof, for different reasons. When Royal gets wind that his family has reunited under the Tenenbaum roof, he feigns cancer to try and get back into their good graces and make amends with them.

Where do I even start with "The Royal Tenenbaums", a film I saw for the first time, probably close to ten years ago and one that I loved from the get go. It's always fascinated me how this film manages to juggle both comedy and drama so evenly and so flawlessly. Speaking of flawlessness, lets talk about the script, one that doesn't come with flaws, at least not any that I can see. I love how the film is based on a non-existent book and tells the story as if it were reading from it's pages, complete with narrator Alec Baldwin. We see some trademark Wes Anderson, as he uses the writing of words on the screen to establish key points and introduces the cast of characters in the beginning of the film, as if they were about to put on a play. The film holds together many different characters, including all the Tenenbaums mentioned above, as well as Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray), Margot's husband, Eli Cash (Owen Wilson), Richie's best friend and Margot's lover and Henry Sherman (Danny Glover), Etheline's suitor. The entire cast turns in fantastic performances, most notably Gene Hackman, who shows up ready to be a Wes Anderson character. It's funny how actors in Anderson's film can't just show up and phone in their performances. You actually have to go through a transformation, deliver your dialogue different and be unique to fit into Anderson's world.

The film also features some great music, that sometimes lingers in the background, providing some added "oomph" to emotional scenes. Other times the music makes itself well known and Anderson knows when to let the music low key and in your face. I just love this story, as it's just so original. A man, who it's hard to sympathize with during the introductions of the film. A callous man who pays no thought to anyone's needs except his own. It doesn't take long for us (me anyway) to start to feel for this man. We realize that he's realized that he's made a mistake, that he's taken his family for granted and that, now, he wants to make amends for his wrongdoing. He's forced to make-up an illness, just to spend time with him, ask for forgiveness, meet his grandchildren and win his family back.

Eli Cash: I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum
Royal Tenenbaum: Me too. Me too.

RATING: 10/10  I absolutely love this film and I always have. It wasn't one that had to grow on me, it won me over from the start and now we have another film fighting over the #1 spot of the next TOP 20.


June 4, 2012  12:22am

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