The estranged patriarch of a dysfunctional family tries to
reconnect with his grown up kids who want nothing to do with him.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson
Starring Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow,
Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray,
Danny Glover, Seymour Cassel, Kumar Pallana, Alec Baldwin
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Screenplay
Third time is clearly the charm with Wes Anderson. With The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson finally put his mark on the Academy and produced a true work of storytelling genius. An argument could easily be made that this one is his masterpiece; a perfect blend of comedy and drama that anyone with estranged family will feel a personal connection to whether they want to or not. A remarkable ensemble of well-written characters, a number of heartfelt subplots, a touching soundtrack, and the beginning of Anderson's symmetrical production design. What more could you ask for?
Once upon a time, Royal Tenenbaum (Hackman) walked out on his wife Etheline (Huston) and his three children Chas (Stiller), Richie (Luke Wilson), and adopted daughter Margot (Paltrow). All three grew up with serious issues. Chas lost his wife in a plane crash and is super protective of his two sons, Richie was a tennis star who burned out, and Margot is a former playwright who has been cheating on her husband for decades. One day, Royal decides he wants to try it again and convinces his family he's dying of cancer (he's not) to try and get in their good graces. Circumstances lead to genuine reconciliation, and the performances are all phenomenal. This film is hilarious and super sad at the same time.
The Royal Tenenbaums is the perfect film to start a friend on their Wes Anderson journey. It has all his trademarks, including the odd dead dog that seems to happen in all his films. But I digress. This film is near perfection, and one of the most delightfully eccentric dramedies I have ever seen.
The Royal Tenenbaums is Wes Anderson’s third film and definitely the one that got everyone’s attention. His first film, Bottle Rocket, did very poorly financially, then Rushmore proved that he had an audience, and The Royal Tenenbaums let us know that he was here to stay. Anderson frequently collaborates for the writing process, with Owen Wilson usually as his partner. They were recognized numerous times by award shows for this screenplay, rightly so.
We are introduced to the Tenenbaum family which consists of Royal (Hackman), Etheline (Huston), and their three proficient children, Chas (Stiller), Margot (Paltrow), and Richie (L. Wilson). All three of them find success at a young age even though their parents split up. The film jumps 22 years later and all of them are in some kind of slump. After Etheline has told everyone she is remarrying, Royal tells them of his battle with cancer and they all reunite back at the house they grew up in.
I’m a sucker for Anderson’s directing style and a true admirer of his ability to write fascinating characters. In my opinion, every one of his films is a masterpiece in its own right but The Royal Tenenbaums is probably the one I would recommend to anyone that wants to get into his work. Wes is able to get incredible actors totally committed to his vision every time. Gene Hackman is fucking wonder as Royal and Owen Wilson is unforgettable as the Tenenbaums' neighbor, Eli Cash. The Royal Tenenbaums is endlessly rewatchable and extremely moving at times.