Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Criterion Collection Spine #157
The film that introduced movie lovers to the wonderfully quirky visual style of Wes Anderson.
While Anderson certainly established himself as a director and saw his style take shape with his second movie 'Rushmore', it was his next movie The Royal Tenebaums where you can see his unique approach to art direction in full force.
During my freshman year of college I had a friend that let me borrow three movies that further enhanced my love of film: Guy Ritchie's 'Snatch', Kevin Smith's 'Clerks', and Wes Anderson's 'The Royal Tenebaums'.
This being my first Wes Anderson movie, the unique approach totally blew my mind, and I was swept away by the vibrant colors and deadpan humor. Up until now it had been my favorite Wes Anderson movie, but in finally rewatching it I think seeing his style for the first time was what set it on a pinnacle for me, and while I still really like it I don't think the story is as strong as some of his other movies.
The film is basically a melodrama about this family with three kids who are were considered to be geniuses, but fell upon difficult times as they grew older. Their parents Royal and Etheline played by Gene Hackman and Anjelica Huston split up, and Royal has been living in a hotel ever since. But one day when his money finally runs out he decides it is finally time to be a good father and pull his family back together.
Everyone in the cast fits into Anderson's style like a glove with excellent performances from the Wilson brothers, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Kumar Pallana, and Ben Stiller. Also Alec Baldwin's soft silky voice provides a perfect narration for this offbeat tale.
I absolutely love the whole presentation of the film from the huge intricate home, story book chapters that divide each section, and the way Anderson will follow the action with a variety of tracking shots.
But in retrospect I think the movie's momentum kind of stalls out in the third act, and the climax with Owen Wilson painted up like a native American and crashing into the Tenebaum home, seems a bit forced.
The music is great throughout the movie, and wonder how much Wes Anderson had to pay to get the rights to use those Charlie Brown songs. I am glad they are included since they set the perfect gloomy mood in each of those scenes.
It is really exciting to me that my view on this movie has changed, so hopefully other Wes Anderson movies that I did not like as much the first time will be better this time around like 'Bottle Rocket' and 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.'
Thanks for checking out my review and please give it a LIKE! Happy movie watching ... SKOL!