Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Royal Tenenbaums

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references, including adultery, lesbian relationship, and technical incest (adopted siblings), brief nudity
Alcohol/Drugs:Characters drink and smoke
Violence/Scariness:Graphic attempted suicide, family misery
Diversity Issues:Inter-cultural relationships
Movie Release Date:2001

Just about everything is a little off-kilter in this quirky story about a wildly dysfunctional family.

A prologue tells us that Royal (Gene Hackman) and Etheline (Anjelica Houston) had three children, all of whom were so prodigiously accomplished while still in grade school that they were the subject of books, including one by their mother.

It seems that they lived their lives backward, though. As children, they easily surpassed adults with their astonishing achievements in the arts (Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a playwright), sports (Richie (Luke Wilson) was a tennis champion), and business (Chas (Ben Stiller) was a financial wizard). But as adults, they have reverted to childhood, and either can’t or won’t perform anymore. One by one, they return home, moving into their old bedrooms. And then Royal, long estranged from the family, tells Etheline that he, too, wants to come home, to make his peace with the family before he dies of cancer.

The result is a crackpot blending of J.D. Salinger’s stories about the gifted Glass children, the classic Kaufmann-Hart play “You Can’t Take it With You,” and a made-for-TV movie called “The Gathering,” in which a tough old rich guy played by Ed Asner visits his long-estranged but never- divorced wife, played by Maureen Stapleton, and asks her to persuade their grown children to come together for Christmas.

But this is very far from the glossy but conventional “Gathering.” It takes place in a whacked-out fantasy version of New York City, where hotels employ uniformed elevator operators, decrepit taxis literally labeled “Gypsy Cab” show up whenever someone needs to go somewhere and there is a YMCA on “375th Street.” The production design is brilliant, especially the house (the children’s bedrooms are magnificent) and the hotel.

Director Wes Anderson and actor Owen Wilson (who plays the Tenenbaum’s neighbor, Eli) wrote the screenplay, and like their previous collaborations, “Bottle Rocket” and “Rushmore,” this movie defies categorization, combining elements of satire, fantasy, comedy, tragedy, farce, and drama. That’s a combination that will make some audiences uncomfortable, but will seem to others to be the best possible way – maybe the only possible way — to truly convey a story of family conflict. The result is messy, even outrageous, but reflecting a singularity of vision that is welcome in a mainstream studio film starring three Oscar-winners.

Families should know that the movie has very mature material including a graphic and bloody suicide attempt, sexual references and situations (brief nudity, brief shot of gay embrace, adultery and a possible romance between adopted siblings) and painful issues of betrayal and deception. There are references to a tragic death. An adopted child is made to feel like an outsider. A character has a serious drug abuse problem. Some people may find the light-hearted treatment of these issues offensive.

Families who see this movie should talk about whether its wild exaggeration of family communication problems can be of help to families who are struggling to connect to each other. What can parents do to give gifted children the stimulation and support they need without making them feel isolated from friends and family? Eli says to Royal “I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum,” and Royal responds, “So did I.” What does that mean? Why did such accomplished children become such fragile adults? Why did Chas react to his wife’s death by becoming obsessed with safety?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Rushmore.” Every family should see the Best Picture Oscar-winning “You Can’t Take it With You,” starring Jimmy Stewart.



Previous Posts

Claire LaZebnik's Thoughts on Thanks
I can't think of a better way to start Thanksgiving weekend than taking a few minutes to read my friend Claire LaZebnik's wise and inspiring essay on gratitude. This most American of holidays is often accompanied by stress -- from hosting and being hosted, from traveling, from family. Claire write

posted 9:39:41am Nov. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Horrible Bosses 2
Maybe it's just the proximity to the horrible "Dumb and Dumber To," but the cheerily offensive "Horrible Bosses 2" made me laugh. Full warning -- it begins with an elaborate sight gag as our hapless he

posted 5:58:28pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Penguins of Madagascar
The most adorable characters from the first three animated "Madagascar" movies were the penguins, the seldom right but never in doubt leader Skipper (Tom McGrath), the often right but never listened to Kowalski (Chris Miller), the literally explosive Rico (Conrad Vernon), and the ever-loyal Private

posted 5:17:32pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Coming Soon: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, the Miniseries
Susanna Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is one of those delicious stories that transports the reader to another world, so enthralling that it is difficult to leave. The setting is historical, England in 1806, as the Napoleonic Wars are being fought on land and at sea. Most peopl

posted 3:58:53pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Jurassic World with Christ Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RFinNxS5KN4?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 3:53:04pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.