Wes Anderson Retrospective: The Royal Tenenbaums



Mother’s day 2002.  I was having lunch with my grandparents but my mind wasn’t there, it was on the 4:00 screening of a film which received positive reviews. It was by the same guy who did Rushmore, a film I missed out on due to exams and I was determined not to miss this one, mainly because I also read quite a few Wes Anderson interviews and this heightened my expectations. I HAD to see why the media were going crazy over this director.

After watching The Royal Tenenbaums I instantly declared it my new fave movie: it was quirky, funny and was in the form of a story, an aspect I still like to this day. For me, this film even looked different; lots of bright colors, walls with funny patterns and the use of futura. One month after the film’s screening, I went to watch it again at our art house cinema.

Now many years later and several viewings later. I can say that I think The Royal Tenenbaums is Wes Anderson at his best. It is perfect. The viewer can feel that Anderson has got total control over everything, from the story to the overall look.

Royal Tenenbaum left his family and seperated from his wife and after twenty or so years is hearing that she is remarrying, something he does not like so he decides to move back to his old house, Royal, though always has an ulterior motive and he also being kicked out of the hotel he lives in.

At the same time his three children, all prodigies gone wrong have returned to the house as well. At this point Royal believes that it is time to make amends for all the things he did in the past.

Calling the Royal Tenenbaums a family saga is not doing it justice, Anderson pulls off complex familial relations and yet makes everything seem light and breezy. Sure over the bright colors there are pretty dark undertones but it’s balanced well. As always a great film needs an strong supporting cast and The Royal Tenenbaums has a big one, something Wes Anderson would continue doing for many of his films, and they all give a 100% effort. Gene Hackman is a perfect loveable sleazeball , Gwyneth Paltrow is superb as the moody Margot Tenenbaum, the Wilson brothers reappear Luke as failed tennis star Richie and Owen as his crazed best friend Eli, Ben Stiller is an excellent neurotic Chas Tenenbaum, Bill Murray gives a funny performance as the hopeless but determined Raleigh St Clair and Anjelica Houston as the long suffering Mrs. Tenenbaum – just great.

The Royal Tenenbaums is Wes Anderson’s masterpiece, and although not my personal favourite film, it still ranks highly as the essential Wes Anderson to watch if you are new to his work. Of course the soundtrack is perfect, no need to mention that.

Quintessential Wes Anderson Moment: So many to choose from but I love the part when Royal takes his grandchildren for a fun day out, which involves gatecrashing tormenting drivers, shoplifting and betting on dog fights.


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