Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson
Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover
Royal Tenenbaum (Hackman) is back in the lives of his estranged family. He’s looking for a way to make amends and regain what was lost to him. Perhaps his announcement of terminal cancer will soften their hearts.
Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) can tell one heck of a story. This time he paired up with Owen Wilson (Rushmore) to put this one together. The film, like all of his movies, features an all-star cast. Gene Hackman (Unforgiven), Anjelica Huston (50/50), and Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love) kick off the list. They’re joined by Ben Stiller (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde), Bill Murray (Moonrise Kingdom), Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris), and Danny Glover (Silverado).
As the narrator, Alec Baldwin (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) guides viewers through the eccentric world that the Tenenbaums live in. The story builds on the unique circumstances that the Tenenbaum children were raised in, and creates a back story that gives an incredible foundation to the story. Like all of Anderson’s films, the ability to understand who the characters are makes it work. The background information is given in a detailed and entertaining fashion that also sets the tone for the film. The dialogue is funny and serious all at once. As with the entire experience, the writing could be described as absurd. Luckily it’s absurd in all the best ways. The twists and turns of the story are weird, wild, and sometimes even a little sad. Overall, the story is great and it pays off on every setup.
The acting in this movie is a patchwork quilt of talented stars all bringing something different to the table. Gene Hackman is an excellent anchor for the film. His performance works as a catalyst for all of the major drama in the film. He’s also able to work the comedic moments equally well. Anjelica Huston is another great addition to the film. Not only does she pair well with Hackman, but she’s also got good chemistry with Danny Glover. She’s got a good sense of how to play the quiet moments that makes her role stand out for all the right ways.
Gwyneth Paltrow is another great member of the cast. She’s got a strange and somewhat dark role in the movie that’s really fun to watch. Luke Wilson also does good work with another one of the darker roles in the film. As the third sibling, Ben Stiller is yet another nice addition to the film. These three have such serious roles, but the absurd nature of their circumstances bring out a dark humor. Owen Wilson, Danny Glover, and Bill Murray add in additional moments of magic to the movie. As a whole, this cast does all the right things with this story.
This movie has a visual style that fans of Wes Anderson should be used to by now. The use of composition, color, and set design come together to create a world that’s just a little left of center. The cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman (Moonrise Kingdom) is wonderful. He’s able to find all the right angles to capture the ridiculous nature of this movie. The music, costume design, and all the other creative work that went into this film pay off excellently.
If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson I’m going to assume that you’ve seen this one. If you haven’t gotten to it, make it a priority. I would also suggest this one to fans of any of the stars in the film. This isn’t the best work Anderson has done, but the quality of the film holds up nicely. Anderson and Owen Wilson were also nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. This might also be a good choice for anyone who loves absurdity, dark humor, or strange drama. I give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.