The Royal Tenenbaums
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

Wes Anderson's previous film, Rushmore, was one of the funniest that I have seen in recent years so I was very interested in seeing his new film, The Royal Tenenbaums.  It has an amazing cast including Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Danny Glover, Owen Wilson and Bill Murray.  Wes Anderson isn't for everyone and if you didn't care much for Rushmore, you probably won't like The Royal Tenenbaums.  The new film concerns an extremely dysfunctional family, The Tenenbaums whose husband and father, Royal (Gene Hackman) abandoned them 20 years ago.  His wife (Angelica Huston) raised the three children (Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke Wilson) on her own. The children were all prodigies but now as adults, they are barely functional.  For various reasons, all three have moved back in with their mother setting the stage for a reunion with their father who appears claiming he has only six weeks to live and wants to make amends.  Actually, he is broke and homeless and insinuates himself back into the unhappy family.  Only Huston seems to moving on with her life as she plans to marry Danny Glover.  Paltrow is married to Bill Murray but wants out, Luke Wilson is in love with his sister, and Ben Stiller's wife has died leaving him to raise two young sons.  At first it seems that Hackman is only making things worse since he has definitely not turned over a new leaf.  But he does love his family and eventually that makes a difference.  Also in the mix is Owen Wilson (Luke's real-life brother) who grew up across the street from the Tenenbaums and is now having an affair with Paltrow.  The new film is even more stylized than Rushmore.  The relationships in The Royal Tenenbaums are very complex and this film doesn't have the simplicity of Rushmore.  For that reason, Rushmore is a more satisfying film to watch.  It's just not possible to contain all the story lines that are bursting out all over The Royal Tenenbaums. But it is very entertaining and the cast is wonderful.  Hackman gives a performance that will probably get him an Oscar nomination.  The other characters are all a tad one-dimensional but the actors put a lot into their roles.  None of them is very likable or even attractive.  Several of the actors including Murray, Luke Wilson and Seymour Cassel were also in Rushmore.  The stories that Wes Anderson brings to the screen are reminiscent of the kind of story that John Irving writes, where slightly abnormal people find themselves in extreme situations.  This is not your run-of-the-mill movie. For that reason alone it's worth seeing.