Wes Anderson’s films are known for their quirky humour and star-studded casts. The Royal Tenenbaums in paricular boasts an impressive cast including Gene Hackman and Danny Glover. Anderson’s usual recurring ensemble of Luke and Owen Wilson, Bill Murray and Anjelica Huston also star.
Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) is the father of child prodigies Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), Chas (Ben Stiller) and Richie (Luke Wilson), who were raised by their mother Etheline (Anjelica Huston) after his abandonment. Not having invested much interest in his children when they were young, estranged Tenenbaum is now terminally ill and decides to reconnect with his children after decades of no contact. Throughout her life Etheline is asked for her hand by many suitors until finally falling for her accountant Henry Sherman (Danny Glover). Despite his ulterior motives, Royal realises that he truly wants to win the affection of his children despite their resentment towards him.
Once again Anderson creates a rich array of characters in this film that all appear overshadowed by the charismatic, albeit exceedingly conniving, Tenenbaum. His characters do have a tendency to sound soulless and dull (particularly Margot and Richie), but this just adds to their eccentricity. Stiller adds tenacity to Chas as he vehemently forbids his father to spend time with his grandchildren. Clearly Anderson takes care to emphasise the individuality of each member of the family at the cost of failing to create any dynamic between them. A near incestuous love develops between Margot and Richie (as she’s adopted), although it’s portrayed rather lifelessly by the two. It hardly seems justified that the deep love Richie feels for Margot is worth losing his life over.
Having said that this film is quintessentially Anderson as it’s full of his symmetrically composed, pastel-coloured shots. It exudes comedy and proves to be yet another great instalment to Anderson’s distinctive and carefully crafted films which have earned him much critical acclaim.