The Royal Tenenbaums

The Royal Tenenbaums ★★★★

Well, everyone knows Custer died at Little Big Horn. What this book presupposes is... maybe he didn't.

The best part of The Royal Tenenbaums is its wonderful opening, which neatly, swiftly, and charmingly outlines the Tenenbaum family history, the children's many quirks, and their awkward and rather one-sided relationships with their father. It's all set to a nicely understated instrumental cover of the Beatles' "Hey Jude," an appropriate choice and one that doesn't seem nearly as on-the-nose as it could have.

The rest of the movie never quite lives up to this introduction, which isn't a slight against it; it's just that the opening is that good.

The rest of the movie is good too, with solid performances across the board. (With an ensemble cast this star-studded, anything less would be a disappointment.) Gene Hackman in particular turns patriarch Royal Tenenbaum, a character who could've easily come across as a total and irredeemable turd, into a charmingly roguish rascal. (Not really an asshole, just kind of a son of a bitch.) It's probably the toughest role in the movie, and Hackman's so perfect for the job that he can't help but make it look easy.

I don't love this movie as much as others seem to, nor do I think it's Wes Anderson's best work (gonna have to go with Moonrise Kingdom on that one; sorry, Grand Budapest Hotel fans). It is, however, a damn fine movie.

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15 October 2020

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