The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Review


The Tenenbaums are a rather dysfunctional family with the three gifted siblings having the potential to go on to achieve great success as they did in youth but not being able to transfer that into adulthood. The return of Royal their father after many years is about to cause chaos for the family, each dealing with their own problems and failure.


The opening of the film is to show what the three children of Royal and Etheline had achieved so far when he told them that they were separating. We have Chas who was a math and business genius, so much so his own father steals money from him. Margot was adopted and wrote a play for which she won an award. Richie a tennis prodigy and artist. Royal used to take Richie on the most outings something that was not forgotten by the other two. With Margot being adopted this was something Royal always used to tell people when they met, never really treating her like a daughter.

Then we have a big time jump of an impressive 22 years! All three of the children now adults are struggling following the year success. We have Richie travelling the world on a cruise ship following a breakdown during his last tennis match. Chas is massively overprotective over his two sons Ari and Uzi, following the death of his wife. Margot is married to Raleigh St. Clair who she doesn’t really seem to love and hides everything from everyone even the fact she smokes.

When Royal is kicked out of the hotel he had been living in he needed somewhere else to stay, he then does a pretty terrible thing to try and get back in touch with his family. All of whom he has not spoken to for many years at this point. He claims to have cancer and even goes so far to get fake information and medication to fool them, although with this plan you just know it is not something he can keep from them for long considering he claims to have six weeks left to live.

The return of their father at what seems to be the worst moments for all three of them does not work out very well to begin with. Especially when they uncover the lie. Although things do swing round well for Royal and everything does work out in its own funny way. That was something I found myself really enjoying about the film, it highlights that having bad times is not the end of everything. That you can come through anything if you really try and that is quite inspiring. We do have a few smaller sub-plots like with friend Eli Cash, which was the part of the film I did not really like. I felt that he could have been removed and it would have improved the film and not really had too much of an impact on the overall story. Then Henry Sherman wanting to marry Etheline as a small sub plot.

I had never gone out of my way to watch this film as I quite frankly struggle a lot with Wes Anderson’s films. He has a very unique filming style and comedy style that I have never really got. So I have to admit that I was actually surprised that I enjoyed this one. I am not sure if it was the charisma of Gene Hackman in the leading role, seriously he is some actor isn’t he! I feel I really could watch him in anything.  Alec Baldwin being the narrator was also something I really liked. The rest of the performances are decent enough as well from Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke Wilson. Worth Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Danny Glover and Owen Wilson in smaller supporting roles. So it certainly boasts a very impressive cast.

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