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The Royal Tenenbaums In this age when Eddie M…

August 14th, 2002 · No Comments

The Royal Tenenbaums

In this age when Eddie Murphy has seemed to have lost his sense of humor and Jim Carrey’s face has lost its elasticity, there hasn’t been any really great comedy movies in the past few years. “American Pie” seemed to start a trend for comedies to become a mixture of stupid jokes and grossness and the movie industry has followed it up with even worse movies like “Not Another Teen Movie”, “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and “Freddy Got Fingered”. Don’t get me wrong, some of these movies are really funny, but man - enough is enough.

That’s why it’s refreshing to watch an intelligent comedy like “The Royal Tenenbaums”. Set in a fantasy-world New York, this movie follows the story of three child prodigies, an absentee father and mother who valued her children’s education above everything else. The patriarch of the family is Royal Tenenbaum (played by Gene Hackman) and the plot revolves around his reunification with his family after 22 years of being away. The wife is played by Anjelica Houston and the children are played by Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke Wilson. The acting in this is simply superb, most especially Gwyneth Paltrow who played the adopted Margot Tenenbaum.

Of course, in ensemble casts like this, the director deserves the credit for making everything fluid. Wes Anderson’s direction on this comedy is excellent, and in my opinion, is even better than his magnum-opus Rushmore. Like that movie though, “Tenenbaums” is not intended for the masses. A lot of the comedy is subtle and psychological. It’s also the small details that make this movie work - notice things like the symetry in the hospital room, the placement of Richie’s drawings, the lego on the light cord in the closet. Wes is a master at this sort of artistry and I don’t really know of any contemporary directors that come close to his attention to detail.

Since this DVD was produced by Criterion, you can expect all the great supplements that come with all the films in their collection. You get behind-the-scenes interviews (that are more insightful than the usual promo stuff you see on DVDs lately), an excellent documentary on the making of the movie, and in-depth commentaries from the director and the actors.

All in all, the Royal Tenenbaums is a sold 4 out of 5 stars.

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