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Film Review - Royal Tenenbaums, The
We've all seen the dysfunctional family story over and over. The families are the same, the disfunctions are the variable. These stories tend to get dull after a while. The Royal Tenenbaums is a cut above this old genre.
A bit Python-esque in its ability to take a fairly common situation, and toss it on its ear. Tenenbaums seems to exaggerate at every opportunity. The father is a pathological liar who has been disbarred, the children were each prodigies in various fields, but now have either become failures in their professions, or have failed to learn how to connect with other people, or both. The mother is the nearest thing to "normal", but even she is bent in her inability to live in the emotional moment. These characters are truly off center.
The major plot piece, which you shouldn't be over concerned about because it's just there to hang the characters upon, is an estranged father who wants to come home. But this is Royal Tenenbaum we're talking about, so he can't just say he wants to come home, he has to lie through his teeth.
The mother is against it, but Royal is after all dying of cancer, so in he goes. The children are the real space cases that pull every shred of comedy out of this plot. Their stories are interesting and enormously funny.
The packaging of the film is rather unique. We are presented with a book, as if being read a childrens' story. We see the lead paragraph of each chapter. This gives the film maker the ability to stop mid-course, turn the film on a dime, and head a new direction.
This was a far better film than I had expected. I'm not saying I want to see a lot of films like this one, but The Royal Tenenbaums came at me from left field with a new twist on an old genre. That's why I say go see it.
Directed by Wes Anderson
Released in 2001
MPAA Rating: R
Reviewed by Mongo