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The Royal Tenenbaums

Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Houston, Gwenyth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Danny Glover, Owen Wilson, Kumar Pallana and Bill Murray
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson

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Bluntly speaking? The Royal Tenenbaums is a bonifide hootenanny! Set like a twisted fable we meet the Tenenbaums, a dysfunctional family of tremendous proportions and individual talents. They are a family made up of odd characters each with a decidedly different talent and genius. The monarch of the family is a shady fellow named Royal.

Dad, aka, Royal (Gene Hackman) is definitely not the leading contender for Parenting Magazine's coveted Dad of the Year award. He has no interest in his three extraordinary kids. There are two boys, Chas, (Ben Stiller) and Ritchie (Luke Wilson) and a girl Margot (Gwenyth Paltrow). He's content to run around town gallivanting, gambling and generally making an ass of himself…He loves life like a guy at the racetrack on Christmas day- clueless to the pain he's causing loved one's but what the f*** he's having a great time!

As children Chas, Ritchie, and Margot are unique and considered genius'. Chas has a knack for finance and is a millionaire by 12. Ritchie's is one of the world's finest tennis players by 12. Margot is a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright by 12. Their mother, Etheline (Anjelica Houston), manages their "careers." Etheline is not exactly the cookies and PTA meeting style parent either but, as distant as she keeps herself, she at least seems to love the kids.

The film whips us through their hysterical childhoods (dysfunctionality = humor no?) and settles in the present. All grown up now, the three are now simply strange and a bit sad. They grasp onto their past successes and for the most part are caricatures of themselves…

All is going along quite redundantly until one day when Etheline has an offer of marriage from her handsome accountant Henry (Danny Glover). Royal, who has been separated from Etheline and the "kids" for 22 years, hears of this injustice and suddenly finds himself desiring her…. MEN!

He connives to get back into the house by faking a terminal illness. Thusly he and his accomplice, Pagoda (Kumar Pallana), who's kind of a double agent working in the household, can work on winning her back for him...Delusional is always a bad mix with disfunctional.

The Tenenbaum "kids" now in their thirties (respectively) and currently living apart (pysically and literally), come together for various reasons so that the whole motley crew is once again under one shaky roof and the hilarity begins.

Chas (Ben "it was a prostetic penis in the zipper for Christ sakes already!" Stiller) is still a financial wiz but has picked up the idiosyncrasy of being manic obsessive with fitness and safety. He's the bitter child. A tad hostile towards his quazi- father for the utter disinterest and desertion Royal left him with.

Ritchie (Luke "slurp" Wilson) is now a washed up pro Tennis player who has disappeared to the sea to try and forget his troubles…

The third child, Margot (Gwenyth "I'm not Cate Blanchette, or Cameron Diaz - I'm the other blonde one!" Paltrow), is still a sullen dramatic gal who chain smokes and looks as if she dresses from the book of Edward Gorey. One almost hears the Death March piped in around her when she graces the screen. Not a cheerful gal is all I'm saying.

Meanwhile the Tenenbaum reunion does not go unnoticed by their way-out-there neighbor and longtime family friend Eli Cash (Owen "Inspector Clouseau nose" Wilson). He's wooing Margot, but seems to be more interested in Ritchie. Ritchie's mad for Margot, Margot's mad for melancholy, and Chas just seems mad.

Can Royal win back the woman he never really cared about? Will the Tenenbaum kids diss the current functions in their mediocre lives and invest in some group counseling? Will Eli be able to sell his classic artwork on Ebay when he grows bored with it? Go see and find out for yourselves.

While each character is radiant and filled with wit this is really Gene Hackman's show. His Royal Tenenbaum was just wonderful to watch. A tough crass bad ass that runs amuck in life leaving droppings of charisma where ever he's been.

Admittedly, Owen Wilson as Eli Cash finally impressed me. I love the guy's writing, don't get me wrong, it's just his films that he stars in that I never dig. Hmm. Luke Wilson (brother of Owen) on the other hand…mmmm now that's a bit a good man slice; a scrumptious hearty manstew of peppery yum! I always enjoy his work. He reminds me of Ed Burns - but without that annoying voice and weasely glare.

Gwenyth Paltrow is adorable as the sullen Margot. A mix of O'Neillian despair and Shakespearean drama presented themselves comically as she brought her depression to a level of delightful absurdity!

Anjelica Houston, whom I adore, was her usual uncanny self. There's nothing this dame can't do, and here she waltzes through her role. A consummate actor.

The whole thing is brilliantly askew. You'll want to watch the sets for great art, tidbits of mayhem and funny sketches that are placed for those looking…The Royal Tenenbaums is one hell of a comedy. Enjoy!

Snack Recommendation: Cheeseburgers and Martinis


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