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Overall Rating
4.17

Awesome58.1%
Worth A Look: 22.38%
Just Average: 7.14%
Pretty Crappy: 2.86%
Sucks: 9.52%

14 reviews, 126 user ratings


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Royal Tenenbaums, The
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Derek Smith

"The most meaningful comedic script and mise en scene in the past decade."
5 stars

The Royal Tenenbaums gives us the best ensemble performance of the year and one of the best of Gene Hackman's illustrious career. It walks the line between drama and comedy and often mixes both into the same scene. We laugh, we cry, and ultimately we too always want to be a Tenenbaum.

With The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson has carved himself a new genre in film. It's part comedy and part drama, full of neurotic characters and an undertone of both sweetness and depression. Taking us on a roller coaster ride of emotions, one minute reaching for the tissues and the next exploding in laughter, Anderson doesn't stick the preset rules of comedy or drama. Playing by his own (and co-writer/star Owen Wilson's) rules, he allows the viewer to have a unique experience. We laugh during seemingly inappropriate moments of drama and find ourselves taking very comical characters quite seriously. On the surface the film has a light-hearted feel from the music, background scenery (notice the nearly antique board games in the closet and the insane paintings in Eli's house) and wardrobe, and the plot unfolding within chapters of a storybook. It is, however, essentially a film about a dysfunctional family where everyone is looking for love and no one knows how to give it. It is done with a touch of innocence and compassion that makes us love the characters despite all their flaws. We never laugh at the characters or their problems but rather the absurdity of the characters themselves. While most people don't know anyone like any of the Tenenbaums, their problems are all too familiar. The characters provide the comedy while their complex, deepseeded problems provide the drama. The ensemble of actors does a fantastic job of showing us how and why they hurt and what they are truly looking for.

Gene Hackman plays Royal Tenenbaum, the father of the family who has spent the last 22 years of his life in a hotel room until one day he runs out of money. He has not spoken to anyone in his family for several years and although he no longer sees Etheline Tenenbaum (Angelica Huston), they are still legally married. Having nowhere else to go, Royal finds a way to con himself back into the good graces of his family, or so he thinks. He tells Etheline that he will be dead in 6 weeks and wants to spend his last days making amends for his past mistakes. Joining Royal at home are his three children (Chas, Ritchie, and Margot) and a myriad of quirky characters that are attached to them. Each of these characters are suffering in their own unique way.

Chas Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller) was a financial wizard as a child but has become paranoid about his children's safety since his wife's sudden death in a plane crash. He moves back home with his mother not because he feels his house is not safe enough, as he says, but because he needs the warmth and comfort only his mother can offer. He is indifferent when he hears his father is going to die and still hates him for, among many other reasons, stealing bonds out of his safety deposit box and giving special treatment to his brother Ritchie. Margot Tenenbaum (Gweneth Paltrow) was also a child prodigy and wrote several plays as a child that earned her a prestigious scholarship when she was in 9th grade. She is stuck in a rut and an unhappy marriage to Raleigh St. Claire (Bill Murray), a child psychologist and decides to come home to find some sort of happiness. She instead finds her father who never misses an opportunity to remind her that she was adopted and isn't a true Tenenbaum. At the moment she is having an affair with Eli Cash (Owen Wilson), the Tenenbaums family friend who lived across the street when they were children. Eli writes Westerns that, while trashed by the critics, still manage to become best sellers. He is also addicted to mescaline and desperate to be a part of the Tenenbaum family. The last big piece of the puzzle is Ritchie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson), tennis champion since his youth until he choked in a big match and decided to sail around the world. Ritchie was always Royal's favorite and although he still loves his father, he has trouble believing that he is really dying.

The most interesting thing to note about the Tenenbaum family is that they are all seemingly stuck back in time when their family was torn apart. Their dysfunctional youth has kept them from growing as human beings. Margot still wears the same dark eyeshadow and rainbow-colored cotton dress that she did when she was 12. Ritchie still wears the same sunglasses and headband that he did when he was a tennis champ as a kid. Chas still wears an Adidas jumpsuit (the same color as his children in case of an emergency) that went out of style long before the 80s ever ended.

When the entire Tenenbaum family gets together, additional problems come about. Chas still hates his father and wants his two sons to have nothing to do with him. Margot hides the fact that she smokes, as she has since she was 12, and that she has had affairs with different men almost every year of her marriage. Ritchie is saddened by his father's illness but is much more troubled since he came to the realization that he is in love with his stepsister Margot. Once everyone is together, Royal truly wants to make amends. He realizes that he was, and still is, a terrible father but he ultimately loves his children even though he has no clue how to show it.

The Royal Tenenbaums is not only about the redemption of Royal. It is about the redemption of everyone in the Tenenbaum family. They have all hurt each other in one way or another and slowly start to realize that they must put the past behind them. Only when they open their hearts in forgiveness can they begin to find love within the family.

The one thing that makes this film so great is its capability of combining such goofy, off-center humor with heart-breaking drama. Wes Anderson's gift is his ability to mix drama and comedy together so well that we often don't know the proper response. He creates characters that are so profoundly sad and puts them in situations that are absolutely hilarious. The comedic parts of the film make us appreciate the characters rather than laugh at their misfortune. The writing team of Anderson and Wilson have real talent and a unique sense of bringing a variety of conflicting emotions from the page to the big screen. The Royal Tenenbaums is an inspirational comic masterpiece whose originality and sensitivity make it a true joy to watch. Now we'll just have to wait and see what Wes comes up with next.

The Royal Tenenbaums is a complex film that in the end has you wondering why you laughed so much. Wes Anderson is the master of mixing comedy and drama and this film definitely one-ups his previous success, Rushmore. ***** out of *****

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5670&reviewer=298
originally posted: 02/01/02 22:35:33
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User Comments

1/18/18 Ed Riddick Brilliant writing and acting. 5 stars
3/04/15 stanley welles an awesome adult comedy - immaculately written and brilliantly performed 5 stars
3/29/14 PAUL SHORTT QUIRKY, CLEVER COMEDY 3 stars
7/07/09 *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
11/10/08 Brian I'm addicted to this movie. One of the best comedies ever. Hilarious and beautiful. 5 stars
9/02/07 Quigley Well-scripted, well-acted and visually inventive comedy. Hackman should have won an Oscar. 5 stars
2/05/07 nmedina Ive seen it over 100 times and have decide like Eli Cash to be a Tenenbaum. 5 stars
1/08/07 Drew Galletti Extremely well done, though I need to revisit still 3 stars
1/08/07 Tulip O'Hare Completely don't get why this is supposed to be good. I just found it slow and snarky. 2 stars
11/02/06 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
4/05/06 Wholy Crapman Wacky, yet believable and lovable characters. Just what Anderson does best 5 stars
3/18/06 MP Bartley Hackman is terrific, but Anderson (as ever) keeps us too distant from the characters. 4 stars
1/08/06 sdg sdg boring 1 stars
7/30/05 yuko hilarious, adorable and a little bit of sadness 5 stars
6/13/05 E-FUNK A Beautiful, hilarious, heart-felt film. I didn't think he could top Rushmore, I was wrong. 5 stars
6/07/05 John Aster Habig a movie that looks at the true meaning of family and love 5 stars
5/25/05 Jake Not as good as Rushmore but still very good 4 stars
5/12/05 mitch Kelly Palma can't handle "reel" comedy 5 stars
1/15/05 Abbath Nice, quirky comedy/drama. Well written with great characters. 5 stars
12/29/04 DM Funny, unique and strangely poignant. 4 stars
11/08/04 Chris McElheney the best movie ive ever seen! i love it. 5 stars
10/31/04 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
7/29/04 Josh Standlee So sh*tty, it made Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Bill Murray look bad! 1 stars
7/11/04 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
7/01/04 Daveman Gracefully crafted and shot with wonderfully subtle dark humor. 4 stars
6/27/04 Bobby da Squid Wonderful cast, NYC-but-not-NYC, amazing rich, detailed visuals - one of my favs 5 stars
4/25/04 Lord Jiggy A slow build...earns your laughter, respect, and affection. Worth full price. 5 stars
3/26/04 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
3/16/04 Holly Beeman What can I say? Wes Anderson is the man. Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, etc.! 5 stars
3/08/04 Wendranh didn't feel any connection to the characters at all 2 stars
2/25/04 Sean What comedy should aspire to be. One of the best. 5 stars
2/06/04 charlie ace 5 stars
1/29/04 Jack Bourbon Garp-guy wannabes. 3 stars
1/27/04 Tom Brilliant, a rare gem 5 stars
1/26/04 lonesome_whistle A funny, quirky, touching movie 4 stars
1/26/04 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
5/12/03 scottyrobotty more funny lines than any movie in the last 10 years. perfect 5 stars
4/20/03 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
2/10/03 Alex Pérez Córdova It´s an excelent movie 5 stars
1/05/03 Karen Great movie! 5 stars
12/15/02 Jimmy Snuka This movie is as awesome as me off the top rope!!! 5 stars
12/08/02 Goofy Maxwell Bitter fruit grows on this family tree. But magnificent Anderson tells such a sweet tale. 4 stars
12/02/02 mr. Pink brilliant! Anderson fulfills his promise that he had with debut Bottle Rocket. Great! 5 stars
12/01/02 Gruther waste of time 2 stars
11/27/02 Zack W. Young A pervesely terrific cast and brilliant writing and direction make this a rare modern gem. 5 stars
11/27/02 Lady who hates romantic comedies The Wilson brothers rock - Gwyneth does not 4 stars
11/03/02 Nerf_Herder Sad, funny, bitersweet and everything in between 5 stars
10/30/02 spacecowboy I really enjoyed this. 5 stars
10/27/02 mike bernotas One thing about this guy's movies.... you can almost feel the season's 5 stars
10/26/02 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
9/28/02 Peter Sherlock I think people mistake smart-arse stuff for brilliance 1 stars
9/14/02 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
8/06/02 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
7/31/02 Christopher Inspired, wonderful, touching, funny. 5 stars
7/26/02 karen goldstein i didn't laugh once - she was in love with her brother! Yuck!!!! 1 stars
7/22/02 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
7/14/02 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
7/11/02 Punk_Ass At first I was like WTF?? but it grew on me as the movie progressed. wierd/entertaining 4 stars
6/18/02 Oscar Smart, Funny, and full of substance 5 stars
5/26/02 PeterGibbons Art house? You frat boys are a riot. I wanna do mescaline! 5 stars
5/26/02 Nicole If you like dry humor and pay attention to the detail in the movie, you will enjoy! 4 stars
5/18/02 Chowie pretty good, owen and luke kick arse 4 stars
5/14/02 hbotis@hotmail.com nice, very nice, but not great. Huston is great 4 stars
3/26/02 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
3/18/02 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
3/11/02 spaceworm Want to see it again. Gene's a Machine. 5 stars
3/01/02 Unagiboy The scene with the "Bikers" paintings was classic! 5 stars
2/28/02 Butterbean Hackman was incredible, this movie was entertaining. 4 stars
2/23/02 tforce academic films about neurosis are better than this 1 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Nicely entertaining. Some laughs, too. 4 stars
2/19/02 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
2/17/02 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
2/16/02 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
2/10/02 Chelley Whom ever doesn't like this film doesn't deserve to live. 5 stars
2/10/02 Jimmy James excellent! quirky and funny 5 stars
2/10/02 Greg Jones By far the best movie of the year. 5 stars
2/05/02 Weeblerelf Intricate, beautiful!! My new favorite!! Just beautiful! 5 stars
2/01/02 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
1/26/02 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
1/23/02 Paco Great emotional themes, performances and soundtrack. Far better than the overrated Rushmor 4 stars
1/21/02 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
1/14/02 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
1/10/02 Robert Odd, touching, clever, but in the end, unsatisfying. Not much insight or feeling at the end 4 stars
1/07/02 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
1/04/02 specialK no Rushmore, but had 4(?) alumni. didn't meet expectations 3 stars
1/04/02 raiven an unfunny waste of film, cast and TIME, trying SOOO hard to be eccentric and clever. 1 stars
1/04/02 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
1/03/02 Superdave Excellent acting, somewhat funny, but no story and very strange, but in a bad way 3 stars
1/02/02 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
1/01/02 jim-bob one hot asian masseuse in it, and one tit-shot. 3 stars
12/30/01 poetchuck An afternoon nap would have been a better use of time 1 stars
12/30/01 Thor-Leo Brilliant, perfectly pitched, almost every scene a jewel. 5 stars
12/29/01 LZ "Interesting..." 4 stars
12/28/01 Jason Fessel This movie rules. It is totally entertaining and funny. It is easy to get absorbed into ch 5 stars
12/22/01 frank i didn't think it was better than RUSHMORE, but it was close. 5 stars
12/18/01 Heather Full of dry humor and great characters, one of the year's best 5 stars
12/15/01 ajay rushmore was great, this is just as good. 5 stars
12/15/01 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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