Wes Anderson makes Wes Anderson films. No other director shares his peculiarities and I’m sure no other director would even try. His films are singular visions… obsessive in detail of a world that seems only to exist in his own mind, yet somehow accessible to the point where we may not understand the world his characters inhabit, but we feel what it is they are going through. Although many people point to Rushmore as the zenith of Anderson’s career, I look towards his 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums.
The story begins with a wonderfully stylized story book opening, narrated by Alec Baldwin and filling us in on the history of the Tenenbaum family. Royal (Gene Hackman), the patriarch; Etheline (Anjelica Huston), the mother; Chas (Ben Stiller), Margot (Gweneth Paltrow) and Richie (Luke Wilson), the three Tenenbaum children… one an entrepreneur with grief issues (Chas), an adopted playwright (Margot) and the failed tennis star (Richie)… these are the Tenenbaums. We are introduced to their entire back-story and specific quirks of each of the children, and ultimately, the now absent father, Royal.
Upon hearing that Etheline may be marrying another man, Henry Sherman (Danny Glover), Royal realizes he has allowed his family and his life to slip away… and now he wants his family back. How he goes about doing this is pure hilarity… yet he manages to get his entire family together under the same roof for the first time in decades. For a film that is absolutely side splitting at times, it is always sad in many different ways… yet so damn uplifting and warm at times you will forget the quirks and simply immerse yourself in the joy, sadness and touching moments of what feels like a real family. One of my favorite lines in the entire film is a brief moment between Eli (Owen Wilson playing Richie’s best friend, now a successful author himself) and Royal where Eli states, “I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum.” Royal response, “Me too. Me too.” And towards the end of the film a brief moment between Chas and Royal will always… without fail, cause me to sob. Not a sad sob… more of the “that is so beautiful and wonderful and happy” sort of sobs.
I haven’t even once mentioned Bill Murray. Although he is in almost every Wes Anderson film, Bill Murray is always a pleasure to behold, and really… what more needs to be said for this man? Nothing.
The “Royal wanting his family back” storyline is but one of many in this wonderfully textured and layered work. Every detail is accounted for… ever bit of music used to it’s full effect (Anderson has a way with music to be sure… this is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time). By far one of my favorite films and I would love for all of you to enjoy this with me. So if you haven’t seen it yet… or even if you have… buy it, rent it or stream it… just see this movie.
Did I hit the dog?
Cornelius J. Blahg