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The Royal Tenenbaums (2002)

The Royal Tenenbaums
The Crass and the Curious!

Starring:

Ben Stiller
Luke Wilson
Owen Wilson
Gene Hackman
Gwyneth Paltrow
Bill Murray

Released By:

Buena Vista

Released In:

2002

Rated:

R

Reviewed By:

Adam Mast

Grade:

A-

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Cinema has seen it's share of dysfunctional families in the last few years (see American Beauty, The Ice Storm etc.), but few have been as hilariously twisted as the wacky Tenenbaums. The Royal Tenenbaums is the latest comedy from director Wes Anderson and as he did with Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, he shows an incredible comic rhythm that is both engaging and unique with a dash of mean spiritedness for good measure.

Gene Hackman is Royal Tenenbaum, a man who will do just about anything to get what he wants. When evicted from his home, Tenenbaum comes up with a fiendish scheme to assure his survival. This includes rounding up his now estranged family. Chas (Ben Stiller) the Wall Street whiz, Richie (Luke Wilson) the pro tennis player, and Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) an award winning playwright are the now grown siblings. Three offbeat geniuses with severe mental problems. Etheline (Anjelica Huston) is Royal's ex-wife, an author engaging on a new life that includes new suitor Henry Sherman ( Danny Glover). Rounding out the list of nutty characters are Margot's husband Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray), family friend Eli Cash (Owen Wilson), and sure handed narrator Alec Baldwin.

There is a lot going on in The Royal Tenenbaums. This is one complex comedy but director Wes Anderson, co-star and co-writer Owen Wilson, and the talented cast seem more than up to the challenge. Anderson's direction is superb, once again illustrating his knack for impeccable comic timing.

It would be virtually impossible to pluck out a single noteworthy performance because this stellar ensemble play so well off each other. No matter how small the role, each actor brings something to the party, making every moment in this video a pure joy.

The key is in the screenplay by Anderson and Wilson. Their droll, cynical sense of humor is most welcome. They seem to treasure the gags that other writers would leave out of their screenplay all together. While you may think you have this video figured out, it goes in an entirely different direction. The jokes are plentiful and hilarious but despite this film's mean spirited assault, it's quite endearing. The Royal Tenenbaums has a lot of heart.

Wes Anderson and co-writer Owen Wilson have once again proven to be a talented force, writing what seems to be a new and higher level of comedy. The Royal Tenenbaums is an unpredictable laugh fest that demonstrates the possibility of love with no sentiment whatsoever--it left me with a big smile on my face.

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