The Royal Tenenbaums
Dysfunction. The Tenenbaums have never been a normal family....
dir Wes Anderson
scr Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson
with Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Seymour Cassel, Kumar Pallana, Stephen Lea Sheppard, Alec Baldwin
release US 14.Dec.01; UK 15.Mar.02
Touchstone
01/US 1h39

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
family isn't a word, it's a sentence Anderson and Wilson (Rushmore) are back with another quirky, comic gem, this time about a family in crisis. The Tenenbaums had a promising start--brilliant lawyer Royal (Hackman), his archaeologist wife Etheline (Huston) and their three genius kids: brainy Chas (Stiller), arty Margot (Paltrow) and tennis ace Richie (Luke Wilson). Then it all goes horribly wrong. The marriage ends and the kids' lives all spin out of control, never delivering on the promise of their youthful achievements. Some 17 years later, on the verge of homelessness, Royal tries to get back into his family's life. But is it too late?

The offbeat filmmaking style combines with an unpredictable sense of humour to keep us on our toes as we watch these characters circle around each other, all in search of the love that never quite materialised. It's an ingenious premise, and the cast fill each character with little details that keep us guessing about them, while the directoral style and sharp script fill every scene with both irony and a mixture of black comedy and bittersweet drama. Hackman is, as usual, the standout--Royal is the one character we really like. But everyone in the ensemble is terrific, including Owen Wilson, Murray and Glover in offbeat supporting roles. It's all a bit mannered and overdone at times, reminding us that it's a terribly clever movie, really. And the style of humour is definitely the kind of thing that either grabs you or leaves you cold. If it engages, it's unforgettably good stuff.
themes, language, violence cert 15 4.Feb.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "I thought it was hilarious but unfortunately the rest of the cinema-goers weren't laughing much at all, forcing me to stiffle my own laugh, lest I annoy too many of them. And they were saying all sorts of vicious things on the way out of the cinema. Guess it was just too offbeat for the average American." --Mike McCarthy, Boston 9.Jan.02 family isn't a word, it's a sentence

"Gripping and unusual! Some really good performances - most notably impressed by Luke Wilson's portrayal of Richie. Some truly moving moments threaded through the comedy. A very good night out." --Karen Alexander, North London 25.Mar.02

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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