A couple years ago, Wes Anderson made a movie called Rushmore, a quirky comedy that some loved and some hated. I personally hated it, but I was willing to give his type of humor a second chance with The Royal Tenenbaums.
The movie is about a guy named Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) who tries to get reacquainted with his messed up family, consisting of his wife (Angelica Huston), his two sons (Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson), and his adopted daughter (Gwenyth Paltrow). Of course, he doesn't have much tact, and no one in the family really gets along, so it is quite a task to get everyone together.
First off, The Royal Tenenbaums has a cast that is only outdone by Ocean's Eleven. In addition to the people listed above, Owen Wilson, Danny Glover, and Bill Murray also have roles. It's a comedy's dream come true.
The movie is presented in a very strange but effective way, separating the movie into chapters. The first couple of minutes, where Alec Baldwin as the unseen narrator tells us about the lives of the Tenenbaums and introduces the cast, is in a league of its own.
The movie itself is in a league of its own as well, using the same subtle humor that Anderson used in Rushmore. Either the script is better or I was just more prepared for the style of humor, but The Royal Tenenbaums is entertaining from beginning to end, using very laid back humor. Anderson's directing style also adds to the film's entertainment value, as he repeatedly throws in what appear to be useless scenes that turn out to be anything but.
The acting is great. Hackman might get himself an Oscar nomination, should the people who decide things look in the direction of this pointless comedy. Paltrow is also very effective as Margot, who is definitely a new kind of character for her to portray. The rest - Stiller, Wilson, and Wilson - and tackle their parts perfectly, Stiller once again showing that he can manage other forms of comedy from what he's used to.
The movie does have a few slow parts, mainly in the beginning and end. The last fifteen minutes seem to drag on excessively, but I guess it is worth it, after you see what is printed on Hackman's tombstone. The relationship subplot between Luke Wilson and Paltrow might bother some viewers.
The Royal Tenenbaums is not a great film, but it is a really good film, and with great directing, a great script, and excellent acting, it's one that shouldn't be missed.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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