77 of 1001 Movies: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Wes Anderson had already broke ground with Bottle Rocket, and Rushmore, and then pushed himself into being a house hold name with The Royal Tenenbaums. His approach to comedy and irony while also creating characters who were unlikable, and likable at the same time because of their ability to strike a chord in the viewer makes a strong movie that pulls on some emotions, and somehow leaves you feeling good at the end.

Royal Tenenbaum finds himself evicted from his current residence and needs a place to stay. His family is estranged, but he knows where he can hopefully find a place to reside for at least a month, but not without lying. Etheline, his wife who he has yet to serve the divorce papers too, is open to letting him stay with her after he shares he is dying. Along the way another series of events reunites the whole family again under one roof. Margot’s marriage is falling apart, and her feelings for Richie still seem to be strong, and he is quite depressed she has never returned them. Chas is the only family member who seems fully skeptical of his dad’s return, but he has his own problems to move on from like the death of his wife.

Wes Anderson is one of the few directors who has such a prominent style that it only takes surface level analyzing upon watching to know you’ve stumbled upon his movie. With very dead pan expressions, still shots, and the like there are so many characteristics. Among these techniques the characters somehow exude emotion even though you have so much stillness. You also have a huge all star cast that seems quite devoted in bringing their roles life, and making the chemistry with the other characters seem real.

Gene Hackman is the stand out as Royal. He somehow gains sympathy yet remains the most hated of the group all at the same time. He’s able to blend touching moments with some terrible, but laughable ones as well. Angelica Houston seems largely silent, but portrays her role as the matriarch of the family very well. The cast is also followed up by Gwyneth Paltrow who is Margaret who will probably be a like it or hate it character. Especially considering she falls for her brother by adoption, Richie portrayed by Luke Wilson. There is something highly intriguing by his character most of all, and his scenes resonate as the most powerful. Ben Stiller portrays the other brother Chas, and while he may not be one you notice at first, for second viewings and beyond you notice what his character has to overcome.

The cast is rounded out with other characters not in the family, but friends like Eli Cash who is portrayed by Owen Wilson. He’s a long time friend who finds himself seeking fame despite his addictions. There is also Bill Murray as Raleigh, as Margaret’s husband. There is also a great soundtrack with this movie that really adds to it. Elliot Smith’s Needle in the Hay, mixes amazingly well with the scene it is put with featuring Ritchie, and you won’t be able to forget it. Somehow the blend of being light and dark all in one movie mixed so well that it leaves an impact.

The Royal Tenenbaums is one of the highlights of Wes Anderson’s career. It features characters all from one family who have a huge diverse background despite that. Most of all the movie is about family, and while there are many dark moments, he somehow always knows how to end on a note that leave you feeling good. Also, the narration from Alec Baldwin adds something to film, and the way it is divided up into chapters as if reading from a book makes it a charming movie to watch.

Rating 5 of 5.

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