The Royal Tenenbaums This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 18, 2010
If the words "eccentric" and "askew" could only be used to describe one person, I'd likely consider Wes Anderson to be a candidate. Anderson has a very specific kind of style for his movies, and this can easily be seen form his earlier works (like Rushmore) to his more recent works (such as The Fantastic Mr. Fox). It's Anderson's style that makes him truly unique, and this film is no exception to his other works.

The Royal Tenenbaums follows a wealthy and intellectual, albeit strange, family that is trying to reunite itself after the family's dissipation years ago. The father's trying to relate to his now grown-up children, the rich son is a widower trying to protect his two children, the athletic son is depressed and in love with his adopted sister, the adopted sister is a depressed playwright who's disconnected with her husband, the mother's trying to remarry, and the family friend - Eli - is a drug addict who's having an affair with the previously mentioned adopted sister. A bizarre family, to say the least.

The characters in the film are all rather quirky, but in an amusing and likable sort of way. Some of them may be a tad too smug, which isn't uncommon for a Wes Anderson film, but they're still enjoyable characters nonetheless. The most likable of the characters, by far, would have to be the father - Royal Tenenbaum (played by Gene Hackman). Where the other characters are sightly neurotic and selfish, Royal has seen the error of that line of thinking and simply wishes to enjoy the last years of his life by making up for his inattentive years with his family. The concept's just as charming as it saddening.

The visuals also look quite nice as well, and Anderson's trademark typography is present here as well. Nicely placed shots, a fluid camera - the film just looks very pretty, for lack of a better word. I especially liked the flashback sequences of the film, as the the execution of those scenes were really top-notch. Margot, the adopted sister, had to have had the best flashback - great choice of music, great visuals, and she's quite an attractive woman to boot. ;)

As far as soundtracks go, I really loved the music chosen for The Royal Tenenbaums. There are a few moments of original score, but the songs really make more of an impact than the orchestra did. Ranging from classical pieces to hits like Ruby Tuesday and Judy Is A Punk, the music for the film fits incredibly well. I could go on about the music here, but I believe that job belongs to someone more inclined to the learning of music.

If I have anything bad to say about this movie, it's that the dialogue and overall atmosphere can feel very smug and 'better-than-you' during the first act. The opening isn't this way, but the first few minutes after it would be have to be the best examples of this criticism. Thankfully, the movie finds its 'heart' before to long, but Anderson can never seem to completely balance the askew and the heartwarming. There are askew scenes, and there are heartwarming scenes, but only few scenes really combine the two. Also, despite how strong these cast of characters are, I thought that Owen Wilson's character of Eli, the drug addict, left something to be desired. He never became as deep or thoughtful as the others, seeming more like a gag character than anything else.

Though The Royal Tenenbaums can be quite smug at times, its wit, charm, and interesting characters make the film a great character study with plenty of style to go along with it.

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