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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 16, 2010
I think I mentioned before that Wes Anderson is a little hit or miss with me. Sometimes he really nails it (`Fantastic Mr. Fox') and other times his chaotic mixture of comedic absurdity and dramatic tension is a little out of balance and somewhat annoying (`Rushmore'). `The Royal Tenenbaums' was the first film I ever saw by Anderson, and it still remains my favorite. The film is simply stunning, the perfect balance of drama and humor, with a winning cast who makes the most out of every second they are on screen.

This film sadly comes in second to `Gosford Park' in both ensemble and screenplay for me this year, but it is a VERY close second.

This film tells the story of Royal Tenenbaum, an aging patriarch to a family of geniuses. Royal is a very hard man to get along with, and his family has grown quite detached from him. As he approaches the end of his life he becomes aware of his failings as a father and desires to make amends. As with any relationship, the longer it goes unattended the harder it is to mend. Despite his efforts, Royal doesn't seem to understand how to fix the mess he created.

But of course, where there is a will there is a way.

The screenplay is honestly a work of genius. I mean, both this and `Gosford Park' probably constitute two of the best screenplays of the entire decade (both would lose to `Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', but that is one of the greatest screenplays ever written in the entire history of cinema). Anderson and co-writer (and one of the films stars) Owen Wilson really work comedic magic, weaving these absurd yet surprisingly deep and moving characters through a whirlwind of inspiring and original sub-plots that never once become tedious or confusing. Everything here only serves to deepen our appreciation for the story being told.

And that appreciation is immortalized in the films ensemble. Like with their screenplays, both this film and `Gosford Park' are two of the best ensembles of the decade (they may actually be the two best). Every performance here is on point and perfectly compliments the other. Gene Hackman (one of the best actors to ever walk the earth) is perfection here, cultivating a deadpan comedic delivery that rivals Bill Murray's masterful work in `Lost in Translation'. Ben Stiller, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Owen Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow (total highlight), Luke Wilson, (the glorious) Anjelica Huston and the hysterical Kumar Pallana all add to the films comedic core with richly detailed performances.

With scenes that will stay with you long after the film has ended (that car crash scene alone is cinematic perfection), `The Royal Tenenbaums' is, like my title suggests, comedic royalty.

I understand that this film is not for everyone. Like I personally admitted, Wes Anderson is not a director whose vision is universally understood or even appreciated. I don't even appreciate all his work, but I admire and respect his dedication to his craft. At least he has a vision. He isn't a generic director. His work speaks loudly as to the man that he is and the visionary he has become. You know a Wes film when you see it, and that is the mark of a true auteur. Whether you love him, hate him or are still trying to make up your mind, we all can respect him for what he has achieved.

He has a achieved a lot with this magnificent film!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2002
I finished this film scratching my head over the raves I've been hearing about it. The cast is terrific, but the material is quite mediocre as was the box office. I can only assume that Wes Anderson's dark, straight faced comedy must really have found a niche that is starved for this style of humor.
This is a film that pretends to take itself very seriously while delivering one absurd situation after another. There is something cleverly ironic about that, but mostly the film is too serious to be funny and too weird to be melodramatic. It really fails to identify itself. It might be viewed as a lampoon of wealth, power and wunderkinds, but it lacks the satirical punch to succeed in that vein.
The acting is delightful given the material with which they had to work. The ensemble is brimming with notables, all of whom are at the top of their game. Gene Hackman is a good choice for Royal. Hackman is an accomplished dramatic and comedic actor and he was the best of the cast members at walking the line between earnestness and the inanity required by the script. Anjelica Huston seems almost like she can't believe she is saying some of the lines she is given, delivering half of them fighting to hold back a grin a mile wide. Ben Stiller does a nice job of portraying the neurotic widower and father hater, obsessed with the safety of his kids. Luke Wilson comes closest to delivering a believable character, playing the highly eccentric former tennis star that had a nervous collapse over the love of his adopted sister. Luke's brother Owen Wilson is far less funny in this film than in others I've seen, but in his defense, he didn't have a lot with which to work. Gwyneth Paltrow abandons her normally sweet demeanor and does a nice rendition of the psychologically troubled Margot, complete with despondent personality, blank stare and a variety of nervous habits. Bill Murray and Danny Glover round out the cast in minor roles that amount to little more than cameos.
This is one of those films that you either love it or you can't connect. I couldn't find enough meat to classify it as much better than fair. I rated it 6/10. Add a couple of points if you like ironic deadpan humor.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2015
One my all time favorites
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2003
I found this movie to be enthralling and wonderful. The characters (and the performances thereof) were very palpable. The Directing and Cinematography was wonderful, giving moments of reflection and breadth of each character, or characters together.
As for those self-important "top 100/500/whatever" viewers who claim this movie is bland, it merely goes to show how the American film industry panders to lowbrow tastes. Would you have liked a shoot-out scene? I'll bet you would have... Go back to your fried steak dinner and keep quiet.
Expect more from your entertainment! Demand that it do more than merely entertain!! (oh, and do so by seein this movie)
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2002
This movie started off as a dark, obscure but funny comedy that kept me interested. Owen and Luke Wilson are just too much, they make me laugh, and if you add in Ben Stiller, you have enough comedy to make many movies work.
Some issues with the movie: Although the comedy remained throughout, the suicide attempt and some other dark parts pushed this movie towards just plain out there.
Positives: Trying new things, the dialogue between Owen and Luke Wilson was absolutely brilliant. The scene where they are on opposite ends of the room and pretend to say nothing, was absolutely hillarious.
Overall, grade of "B"
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2014
As advertised, thanks.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2002
I loved "Rushmore," but Wes Anderson squanders some of its best tricks here to tell pretty much the same story from the rich kids' side. The characters seem more like excuses for the soundtrack and the moody Charles Addams-meets-Tim Burton New York he's constructed than people he really cares about. Nearly every scene can be matched to one in "Rushmore," with the latter showing more heart each time. I hope the mainstream attention hasn't hardened Anderson's quirks into cliches--he's a unique talent and I look forward to seeing what his next film brings.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2002
THE ROYAL TENENBUAMS is a big, ungainly treasure chest of feelings and people. Like a piece of music or the classical European novels it takes after, characters and themes enter and leave, tones and styles are woven together, things diverge into byways and reunite for the final fireworks. It's a massive creation from director Wes Anderson, whose RUSHMORE was less ambitious and yet not nearly so controlled. It's a TV sitcom reimagined as grand metropolitan family epic of genuises.
Especially as it nears its finale, the film has the uncanny scope of a Greek tragedy that's not tragic at all--it's a fine human comedy with the usual frailty and melodrama exaggerated to the point of mad, brilliant genius. This gem sprawls out all over the carpet like a kid emptying every toy from the chest and combining them for one humongous play session--we doubt he'll finish what he's started, but we're wrong, and happy about it. It's the movie that, say, A BEAUTIFUL MIND wanted to be. That film longed for this one's fire, its breadth, its brain and its balls. And it still wouldn't beat it for sheer pleasure. For something so wired, you come out strangely at peace. Watching it, we get some kind of relief, assurance as we plunge headlong into that gaping mouth: everything has been taken care of.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2002
The first time I saw the Royal Tenenbaums, I saw it with Frank, an affable guy from New Jersey who commuted 50 minutes every day from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve Day to hawk Douglas Firs, Canadian balsams, and Warner Brothers Christmas stockings on the east side of 3rd Ave. between 38h and 39th. I'd last seen Frank Christmas Eve night, about two weeks prior to seeing the movie. We''d torn apart the two by four lean-tos that had held the stock of trees, thrown the unsold wreaths over the fence that separated the handball court from out block-long stand, and headed to SoHo where we joined all the other employees of Manhattan's second-largest Christmas Tree chain in drinking fifty dollars each. I thought the Royal Tenenbaums was very good, but Frank thought it was simply 'okay.'
I saw the Royal Tenenbaums in the theatres on a total of five time, paying full price once, using vouchers my parents had given me for Christmas on three occasions, and sneaking in once after paying to see 'How High' at the AMC 25. The Royal Tenenbaums is better than How High, though that movie is not without its appeal. The acting in Tenenbaums is superb, the art direction wonderful, and the story interest. The DVD transfer is excellent.
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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2005
...and a paucity of substance. And any substance that's there is either unapologetically cribbed from the works of J.D. Salinger and Irving's "Hotel New Hampshire" (and numerous others), or is completely reliant on the inclusion of warm and fuzzy chamber pop from the 1960's to make you "feel" something that isn't there. Ho-hum. If not for the presence of Gene Hackman (a man who should have gone with his gut and avoided this one), there'd be nothing at all to recommend. Twee, retro outfits and Rolling Stones songs alone don't cut it.
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