25 September 2009
It's time for six: "Let's shag ass!"
Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums is the first film I remember going to see twice at the cinema. I clearly remember watching the film and laughing harder than I had ever done before. My brother and I have a special relationship with the film because it was, and still is, our favourite film that we have seen together. I remember seeing the previews for this film during the summer of 2001 and knowing that it was going to be a film I would love. I had never seen Wes Anderson`s previous films, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, and for some unknown reason I still have not, although his more recent films (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited) were quite enjoyable. Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Gwyneth Paltrow may not be my favourite actors, but the entire cast of this film creates a wonderfully off-beat dark comedy about an eccentric family.
Gene Hackman stars as Royal, the deadbeat patriarch of the Tenenbaum family. His three children (Ben Stiller as Chas, Luke Wilson as Richie, and Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot) were once child prodigies, who have all failed to mark achievements in adulthood. The film begins with Royal being evicted from his hotel room, his home for the past 22 years. His wife Etheline (a marvelous Anjelica Huston) has just become engaged to her accountant, Henry Sherman (Danny Glover). Homeless and broke, Royal devises a plan with his devoted friend Pagoda (Kumar Pallana) to become reunited with his estranged wife and family. He tells his family that he is dying of stomach cancer and before long all the members of the Tenenbaum family are living in the family home. The Royal Tenenbaums features Owen Wilson, as a childhood friend of the Tenenbaum children, and Bill Murray, as Margot's husband, in supporting roles. The film follows the chaotic adventures of Royal, as he tries to reestablish his relationship with his family.
The Royal Tenenbaums is a fantastic movie on so many levels, but at its core it is a story about family. As you can see from my taste already, I love dark comedy. This film is a very dark comedy. I love watching a movie where you do not know when you should laugh, if you should laugh, and when you realize that you have been the only one laughing at a certain scene. The actors in this film work as an ensemble and it is very clear that these characters are related. Wes Anderson has created a script with Owen Wilson that is both wickedly funny and very emotional. Many films fall flat with the use of a narrator, but Alec Baldwin's tone of voice perfectly sets up the scenes and gives the viewer just enough information for the whole film to flow perfectly. Gene Hackman was rightly praised for his leading role, one of his few films this decade. One may draw comparisons between this film and one of my favourite television shows: Arrested Development. There must be something about dysfunctional families!