The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

(In theaters, March 2002) While I recognize the artistic qualities of writer/director Wes Anderson’s previous Rushmore, I doubt that I’ll ever manage to like it. I was prepared for more of the same with The Royal Tenenbaums, and so my feeling at the end of the film is one of relief. Yes, it’s more or less the same approach than Rushmore, but this time the discomfort factor of the first film is toned down and the characters are more broadly sympathetic. The result is a much more enjoyable film. The acting talent present in the film is awe-inspiring; Hackman, Huston, Glover, Stiller, Wilson [x2], Paltrow… aside from Bill Murray (in a role that could have been played by anyone), few of them are wasted. There are still uncomfortable moments (the Paul Wilson plot-line, for instance) but the writers’ love for their characters shines through and carries the audience over the less pleasant moments. The direction is appropriate, though occasionally a touch too pedestrian especially given the flourishes shown elsewhere in the film. While I’m not particularly enthusiastic over The Royal Tenenbaums, it’s a definite step up from Rushmore and a quirky comedy in its own right. Definitely worth a look on video if that’s your type of film.

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