The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

royal tenenbaums poster 2001 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great story with a fun cast and look

Runs the risk of being too extreme

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Royal Tenenbaums

Studio:  American Empirical Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  December 14, 2001

MPAA Rating:  R


Our dad’s full of crap

The Tenenbaums are brilliant failures.  Chas Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller) is a successful businessman destroyed by his wife’s death and trying to protect his children Ari and Uzi (Grant Rosenmeyer and Jonah Meyerson).  Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) was a world class tennis player who quit after suffering a meltdown because of his hidden feelings for his sister.  Margot Tenenbaum (Gwynth Paltrow) is the adopted playwright married to psychologist Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray), keeping secrets, and no longer able to write.  The family is helmed by Etheline Tenenbaum (Anjelica Houston) and their absent father Royal (Gene Hackman) and often visited by their neighbor and budding writer Eli Cash (Owen Wilson).  When Henry Sherman (Danny Glover) proposes to Etheline, Royal decides to reinsert himself into his family’s life against their wishes.


Oh yeah! Go-carting!!!

Directed by Wes Anderson, The Royal Tenenbaums was a follow-up to his successful Rushmore (1998).  The movie was critically acclaimed and Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson were nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Like many of Anderson’s scripts, the story was based on a lot of real life incidents, but also really feels like it draws heavily from J.D. Salinger’s writings like the Glass family.  The characters are all rather extreme and troubled (like Salinger’s eccentric family), and the ’60s/’70s feel gives it a bit of a classic sense.


I might have a bad cowboy look, but I have some awesome paintings.

Anderson has a way with framing that really sells his films.  It is often as if we are looking at a stage with very little camera movement or multiple camera options.  The framing usually is steady for a scene and I love how it looks.  The Tenenbaums’ home is fun and the set designs are great, plus great use of colors and music…another trait of Anderson.

Anderson continues to use the great idea of an ensemble cast.  The cast here is huge, but the characters still feel well rounded.  This easily could have been a TV series because all of the characters have such depth.  The oddity of the family gives it a feeling of Arrested Development but instead of a self-centered family, the Tenenbaums are so involved with each other that they continue to hurt each other.


Nothing like hanging out with the sister you love, a nice smoke, and your falcon Mordecai

I love Wes Anderson and after Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums probably my favorite film of mine.  This film however does show a slight problem of Anderson in that it starts to get a little too crazy and too surreal.  His follow-up film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I feel lost its direction…The Royal Tenenbaums is on the verge of doing this. With such creativity, I hope that Anderson manages to keep a firm hand on his films (something that Quentin Tarantino often fails at) and make that creativity work for his stories instead of against them.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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