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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘The Royal Tenenbaums’: A Quirky and Comical Depiction of a Highly Eccentric American Family

Movie poster for the film The Royal Tenenbaums starring Gene Hackman and Ben Stiller

“The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) is a quirky and charming comedy from Wes Anderson (“Rushmore”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) chronicling the exploits of the extended Tenebaum family of New York City—with special focus on family patriarch Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman).

Separated from his wife Etheline (Anjelica Huston) and alienated from his children Chas (Ben Stiller), Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Richie (Luke Wilson), Royal deviously fabricates a case of stomach cancer in order to engender their sympathies. Returning to the family home for the sake of convalescence, he quickly injects himself into the affairs of his estranged clan—creating consternation and disarray amidst the dispirited bunch.

Crafted by Anderson as a clear homage to the works of J.D. Salinger and his fictitious Glass Family, “The Royal Tenenbaums” is an oddly endearing and often highly amusing tale of familial dysfunction. Hackman shines brightly in one his final roles prior to retirement, delivering great comic energy to this unique tale of calamity and reparation. Equal parts hilarious, unusual and strikingly sentimental, it’s a wonderfully off-kilter creation from a young Anderson who, in 2001, was still just getting his feet wet as a filmmaker


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