Sunday, November 02, 2008

Movie Log: The Royal Tenenbaums

And the last movie I need to write about before I can go on vacation is The Royal Tenenbaums. (With this post, I will be officially All Caught Up, having written about all of the books I've read and movies I've seen, with five ComicMix reviews sitting in their queue and nineteen Antick Musings posts poised to drop at specified times over the next eight days. I've been damn busy this last week, even if hardly any of it has shown from outside.)

This is the middle Wes Anderson movie, between Rushmore and Life Aquatic; I'm now caught back up on his work. (Not hard to do with a guy who's only directed five full-length movies, but we have to take our wins where we find them.) It's a Wes Anderson movie, so it's a bit off-kilter and has both Bill Murray and a surfeit of Wilson brothers in it. And everyone else who cares probably saw it seven years ago, when it came out.

The Wife and I watched it about a week ago, and we had a buggy Netflix disc with some scratches at the beginning and end. It did mean that we got through the movie fifteen minutes faster than we should have, but I'm not sure if I can honestly claim to have seen the whole thing. So I'll avoid making any sweeping judgments about it.

I'd like to see Royal Tenenbaums again some day, and watch the whole thing -- but probably not for a few years. It felt like a tighter, more constricted, and darker movie than the other Wes Anderson films -- it is about a family of huge failures (all after early, massive successes), after all. (And was that Anderson making a pre-emptive stab at his own career? So that, no matter what happens to him from this point, he can point to Royal Tenenbaums and say, "At least I never got that bad.")

Should I say anything about the plot? Gene Hackman is Royal Tenenbaum, a lawyer in a city that's never actually (in the parts I saw, at least) specified as New York, but seems to be. He and his wife Etheline (Anjelica Houston) pushed their three children to succeed hugely: Chas (Ben Stiller) as a pre-teen business tycoon, Richie (Luke Wilson) as a tennis star, and the adopted Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) as an acclaimed playwright. But all that is prologue -- literally -- and seems to have been over well before any of them turned twenty. Now, fifteen or twenty years later, Royal is disbarred and broke, Chas a paranoid widower, Margot a secretive introvert married to a famous psychologist, and Richie seemingly normal, for a guy who never shaves or takes his sunglasses off.

It's a family story, so what happens from there is how the family members -- in odd, abnormal, Wes Anderson ways -- get on each others nerves and deal with each other. It's not really a happy movie, but family life isn't always happy, either. Again, I'd have to see it again -- see it all the way through -- to say anything I could stand behind. But it's definitely a movie worth seeing, even the way I saw it.

1 comment:

SWILUA said...

"Should I say anything about the plot?"

there was a plot?! I must have missed that...

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