• R, 1 hr. 50 min.
  • Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Wes Anderson
    In Theaters:
    Jan 4, 2002 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jul 9, 2002
  • Buena Vista Distribution Compa


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The Royal Tenenbaums Reviews

Page 1 of 732
Dan S

Super Reviewer

October 7, 2007
An interesting, offbeat film from Wes Anderson about a family of child prodigies (Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson) who grow up in a dysfunctional household, headed by their father Royal (Gene Hackman), and how the family comes back together under the same roof after many years after their father announces he has a terminal illness, after leaving the family a long time ago. Sometimes, Wes Anderson's style of film-making is infuriating. His characters can sometimes come across as robots spouting dialogue (like in "Moonrise Kingdom") or just flat out unbelievable and quirky for the sake of being quirky ("The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou"). Here, he hits just the right balance of humor to offset the darker, sadder tones this story has. It is never laugh out loud hilarious, none of his movies are, but the sadness and heartbreak coursing through this family is definitely not expected, and in turn makes it quite touching. Hackman is phenomenal, as he always is, and the supporting cast is excellent as well. It almost veers off a cliff at its finale, but it still ends on a good note that ultimately makes it a worthwhile viewing.

Super Reviewer

March 22, 2014
Wes Anderson is an eccentric director who always manages to make in inventive, charming and memorable picture. With the Royal Tenenbaums, he crafts one of his finest films and he directs a great cast of talented actors who each bring something that make this such a memorable film. Wes Anderson has a distinctive directing style, one that is absolutely unique and engaging. I've seen quite a few of his films, and The Royal Tenenbaums is one of his best, and it boasts some great performances matched with an engaging storyline. Anderson fans will surely enjoy this, and like I've, it's one of his best movies and he displays his skills perfectly here. With this film, Wes Anderson seems to be even more confident behind the camera, and therefore he tells a more thought out and memorable storyline. Anderson is a great filmmaker, and he deserves more praise than what he gets, and film lovers should appreciate his work for what it is. What I mean by that is that many people won't even take a glance at his work, and easily dismiss it because of the somewhat eccentric way he makes his movies. I think it's a great shame because his films are very original, and each one becomes even more thought out than the previous one. The Royal Tenenbaums is a fine drama comedy that showcases the talents of a unique and original filmmaker perfectly. With Wes Anderson, you never know what type of film you'll get, but there will always be his signature style of having whimsical characters stuck in bizarre situations with each movie. That's what makes work worth seeing, and if you're not familiar with his work, this is a perfect place to start, along with Moonrise Kingdom. This is a stellar film, one that is well acted and directed and is highly engaging from start to finish.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

December 28, 2010
An appealing melancholic comedy whose strength lies in how its eccentric characters are so well constructed inside this strange story that invests in an offbeat atmosphere (as if out of a dreamlike version of New York) to tackle matters like loneliness and amends.
Sanjay R

Super Reviewer

April 23, 2012
There is some whiff of the golf club with Wes Anderson for me. He is sometimes funny, but what he perceives as humor leaves a lot to be desired. This movie has the makings of a good one, but never quite gets over the hedge. This is just an empty film.
Lucas M

Super Reviewer

February 1, 2012
The Royal Tenenbaums is a terrific work by the cast, just like Anderson's direction and the deep and darkly funny screenplay by Wes and Owen Wilson. A delight deadpan comedy drama. Fresh
Kase V

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2012
Wes Anderson's 'The Royal Tenenbaums' is a remarkable piece of filmmaking. Every scene oozes charm, delight, whimsy, and brilliance. Anderson and Wilson create another amazing script with great bouts of dialogue and interesting character development. The cast is so strong, each character is not only acted to perfection (especially Hackman) but easy to fall in love with. I didn't find it as funny as Anderson's sophomore bout 'Rushmore', but the Tenenbaums exceed that film with its melancholic punch and emotional relevance. All in all, 'The Royal Tenenbaums' is a freakishly fun film you'll love to absorb again and again.
paul o.
paul o.

Super Reviewer

February 11, 2012
Very odd but the characters are all amusing with an interesting story about family. A must watch to hipsters everywhere!
Tyler C

Super Reviewer

January 16, 2012
Hilarious in both ironic and absurdist ways, but also conveys very well-constructed themes of melancholy and redemption. A perfect introduction to my foray into the work of Wes Anderson!
Graham J

Super Reviewer

October 21, 2011
An absolute classic. Top 5. An example of perfect casting. The detail of this movie is amazing. Favorite scene is when Hackman tells Angelica Huston that he's dying, then that he's not dying, then again that he is dying. Can't believe this only has 80% on the meter.

Super Reviewer

August 2, 2009
If anyone has seen a Wes Anderson film, it's an experience you're not likely to forget in a hurry. The characters are just the little bit left of centre, the plot is just a little strange and the script is just a little bit completely insane. And this is his masterpiece.

The Royal Tenenbaums documents the lives of three "highly gifted" children and their family, extending to their friend and neighbour Eli, to-be stepfather Henry, brother-in-law Raleigh, Raleigh's test subject Dudley, the family butler Pagoda and other assorted "family" members.

The first thing to know about Wes Anderson's film is that it is, very definitely, Wes Anderson's film. Despite the powerhouse ensemble, Anderson's vision is clearly visible throughout the whole picture, both in his direction and in his script. His peculiar framing techniques, notably the ridiculously wide shots which include only the subject head and shoulders, aren't used to intentionally distract, rather to point out the subtle absurdity of the situation. His fluid style extends to glimpses of cinema verite style but is more controlled than the shaky cam we see more of today. He is able to transition from formalist to realist in a heartbeat and the thought behind every shot is palpable. In other words, this, especially in terms of direction, is a hell of a film. He is also able to add moments of humour or extra emotion to a scene simply by moving the camera a few degrees. The way he keeps the scene emotionlessly static during a few more heartrending scenes is restraint at its finest. And despite the obscure angles and strange framing, this is one of the overriding factors in the film: restraint. Rather than point out every little thing or make sure there's a close-up for the audience's sake, Anderson trusts his audience enough to let them figure it out for themselves. This makes multiple viewings not only a must but a joy as deeper and deeper levels of meaning and humour become apparent each time.

The same can be said of the script. After each viewing, new jokes make themselves known, new levels of emotion can be discovered. Anderson's bone-dry deadpan in many situation works to great avail, especially in the humour side of things. Anderson also makes a very important distinction in his film: many of the moments may seem absurd, even surreal, but none of them ever excced the limitations of the possible. Each situation or moment is plausible in light of the characters which makes it all the more hilarious. Anderson's script is, first and foremost, a comedy and he is able to wring humour out of the most banal of situations, whether it's finding a javalina or walking into a closet. Secondly, though, it is a drama, and Wes is able to add in some truly beautiful moments as well as emotionally harrowing. Don't be surprised if you find yourself laughing and crying at the same time, at the same thing. Richie's bathroom sequence is one of the most amazing in the film and the ending is a beautiful example of indie weirdness with true emotion. Anderson's ability to juggle such a variety of complex relationships is truly commendable as well. He never relies on cliche or uses the obvious setup, despite having a huge interlocking network of characters on hand. Chas' fractured relationship with Royal together with his slowly devolving mental state is beautifully executed and pays off brilliantly.

Despite the director's prowess and the incredible script, a lot of the film relies on the cast. Thankfully, everyone seems to have decided to save their best performances for this film. Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke Wilson play the three children and are each amazing in their portrayals. Ben Stiller, especially, shows a maturity of performance and depth that you won't find in the likes of Zoolander, as well as finding the humour in every situation. In many ways he is the straight man to a lot of the cast, especially his father. Speaking of whom, Gene Hackman plays Royal, the eccentric/borderline insane patriach of the Tenenbaums. Estranged from his wife and childre, Royal is running out of money and so takes to deception to win his way back into the family. Hackman's performance in the film is one of those that you only get once every ten years. He is at once loveable and detestable, sympathetic and despicable and so much larger than the screen he's on. He brings an air of gravitas to the role which makes him believable and enigmatic. It's a brilliant performance which combines a keen comedic sense with a bombastic disposition and he pulls it off without a single bum note. Gwyneth Paltrow's performance is strangely restrained, lacking the charming smile which has gained her fans worldwide, trading it in for an almost bored quality where everything is unnecessary and a chore to get through. Even though she has a long line of fantastic films, her performance here is so beautifully measured, this may be her best. Luke Wilson's Richie is fantastic as well, though he doesn't have the emotional moment which many of the other roles are afforded. Where Hackman's deception finally gives way to true emotion, Stiller's rage gives way to breaking down and Paltrow's disconnection gives way to feelings, Wilson's zen-like attitude doesn't give way, visibly, to any specific emotion. Despite his "needle in the hay" scene having great impact emotionally, his detached sensibility stays intact, outwardly, throughout everything. This makes his performance all the more impressive as the emotion which occassionally leaks out speaks volumes as to what's going on underneath. It's a tribute to his performance that we are able to see this happening at all. The rest of the cast turn in fantastic supporting roles, especially Bill Murray and Anjelica Huston. Owen Wilson also turns a great performance, as does Danny Glover. The ensemble nature of the film means that each performance has its own specific nuance which can be appreciated more and more on repeat viewings.

Anderson's use of music in the film is fantastically diverse and inventive to a fault. Beginning with the Mutato Muzika Orchestra's version of Hey Jude, the songs become more eclectic as the film goes on, but not for the sake of being diverse in itself. Each song works within the crux of the scene, adding emotion and atmosphere equally. Soundtrack standouts include Needle in the Hay by Elliot Smith and Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard by Paul Simon.

The Royal Tenenbaums is beautifully planned, designed and executed and only gets better after repeat viewings. Having Alec Baldwin as a narrator doesn't hurt either.

Defining Scene:
It's a toss up between the bathroom scene and the ending montage but I'm going to say the ending for sheer emotional weight.

How long have you been a smoker?
22 years...
I think you should quit.

Where's that red one gonna go?

You've made a cuckold of me my dear. Again.

How come he gets to do that?
He's depressed.
So am I!
So are you what?

Everyone's against me.
It's your fault man.
I know but dammit, I want this family to love me. How much money you got?
I don't have.
What? You're broke? How are we gonna pay for this room?

He has the cancer.

That's just one man's opinion!

Four minutes, forty-eight seconds. We're all dead. Burned to a crisp.

What did you say?
Hmm? I didn't say anything.
When? Right now?

She's balling Eli Cash.

Margot said you told her I was in love with her.
Why would she tell you that when I specifically asked her not to?
I might ask you the same thing.
Yes, and rightfully so.

Anybody interested in grabbing a couple of burgers and hittin' the cemetery?
Jan Marc M

Super Reviewer

September 9, 2011
The magnum opus of Wes Anderson, The Royal Tenenbaums features the reconciliation of a father with his family in pale drama, appealing humor, and peculiar style. Royal, indeed.
Eric S

Super Reviewer

February 18, 2010
This is a brilliant film with a score which couldn't be more apt.
The Tenenbaums are a family of "geniuses" consisting of Royal Tenenbaum(Gene Hackman), his wife Etheline(Anjelica Huston), and their three children. Chas(Ben Stiller) started buying real estate in his early teens with his preternatural understanding of international finance, Richie(Luke Wilson) the junior tennis champion in his Bjorn Borg Fila and Diadora attire who wins the U.S. Nationals three years in a row, and Margot(Gwyneth Paltrow) the adopted child playwright who received a Braverman grant of fifty thousand dollars in the ninth grade. Clearly quite an auspicious beginning for the Tenenbaum children, but this was all nearly erased by two decades of failure, betrayal, and disaster which was pretty much considered to be the fault of the "Royal" father.
The tale follows the paths of the five family members who fall into a sudden and quite unexpected family reunion in a more recent winter in NYC.
Jason R

Super Reviewer

July 7, 2011
Not my favorite Wes Anderson -- easy to see that he's refined his style over the years -- but definitely another strong entry if you're a fan. As always, he's helped out by great performances from top notch actors, with Gene Hackman turning in a Firth-esque (can I coin that?) lead act.
Drake T

Super Reviewer

May 30, 2011
A movie so rich in style and character, yet never forgets to resonate in it's family feud complexities. It's a masterpiece of quirky oddities that rarely misses it's intended emotional marks while simultaneously hitting all the right comedic chords.
Idrees K

Super Reviewer

May 6, 2011
Quirky and chock full of irony and jokes hidden in the details. The ending could've been better.

Super Reviewer

April 30, 2011
Fulfilling, offbeat, and aesthetically pleasing.

Super Reviewer

December 1, 2010
Wes Anderson and "The Royal Tenenbaums" ushered in the "indie" genre (not to be confused with independent filmmaking, mind you) in 2001. Setting the stage for other filmmakers like Noah Baumbach, Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonze to craft their own visions of a sort of precious, hip reality. This film is certainly well written and acted and at the time of it's release a breath of fresh air, but looking back, it all seems rather pretentious. Whatever your feelings towards this style of filmmaking, "The Royal Tenenbaums" proves to be a fairly original and enjoyable work; it's just nothing all that major.

Super Reviewer

February 3, 2010
I was expecting a comedy full of obvious, laugh-out-loud humor, from the fervor I'd heard about it, but I was really shocked and impressed by it. First of all, Luke Wilson. Usually I group the Wilson brothers together in the not-so-serious-kinda-predictable movies, but Luke really shined in this, especially when set in a cast with tons of people to steal the scene. And even more impressive, Ben Stiller in a role that I actually liked. Whoa. It was most definitely a quirky, very black comedy that takes a ton of (mainly) comedy actors and successfully puts them together.
AC rating: My first Wes Anderson commentary. Yay! I liked it! I really liked all the details and story formation mentioned. This commentary also has raised my suspicions that Owen Wilson is actually smarter than he seems. And that is shocking.
Spencer S

Super Reviewer

December 13, 2008
Another hipster movie from Anderson, it grabs you and says, "I'm different." That interests me more than anything.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

November 26, 2009
A near perfect movie that has a great blend of comedy and drama. All of the characters are all really outrageous, yet very real people. Wes Anderson's style works really well and it is a very meticulous script that is very rare to find in comedies.
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