Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller
Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums is centered around the famously eccentric Tenenbaum family; a family comprised of several former child prodigies that have become, for a lack of a better term, estranged by their much less extravagant lifestyles. This can be attributed to their father, Royal Tenenbaum, leaving the family nearly 20 years prior, after his endeavors involving his own career as a litigator and so forth didn’t pan out the way he’d wanted them to, to say the least. Once Royal catches wind of a rumor surrounding his wife potentially remarrying the family accountant, he returns, feigning a terminal illness in an attempt to reconcile with those he’d hurt most.
This film is essentially everything I’ve come to appreciate in modern-day cinema, and then some. It’s terrifically quirky in a way that gives all of Anderson’s work the feel he’s undoubtedly associated with, yet it also manages to be emotionally poignant in a way you would never expect. Further still, it’s brilliantly cast and well-acted, with kudos going to Gene Hackman for showing all of us that he can be funnier than we’d ever thought possible. Other noteworthy performances from the supporting cast, consisting of Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, with Luke and Owen Wilson are nothing short of terrific.
Another thing the writers manage to do quite nicely is keep the story flowing in an entertaining and coherent fashion; there isn’t a single boring moment to be found, nor a single laugh out of place or any elements that could potentially confuse viewers. The way the story’s told is also very unique, as each part is chronicled via the use of a fictitious novel that the movie is supposedly based on. Sticking with the coherent structure the plot possesses, this “book” begins with each of the three siblings’ childhood endeavors, then gradually makes the transition from their adolescence to adulthood with relative ease. And, like I’ve already touched upon briefly, with the story’s progression comes the maturity and self-realization of some of the characters, which essentially brings out the grittier emotionally charged underbelly present towards the tail-end; an element that’s arguably my favorite part of the film, as it’s essentially responsible for one of my all-time favorite sequences in cinema history.
To be frank, The Royal Tenenbaums is simply fantastic. Personally, I feel that Wes Anderson will never be as good as he was when writing this offbeat cinematic gem, and seeing as how he’s yet to top it roughly 7 years after the fact, my assumption may very well become truth. An intelligent, quirky script, incredibly coherent plot, and great performances offered by way of just about the entire cast, most notably Gene Hackman make this film one of my favorites. Furthermore, it’s ability to be both darkly humorous and emotionally resonant is a feat within itself, and I’m proud to say everything good that I can about it. It’s simply terrific.