Volume 95, Issue 54

Tuesday, January 9, 2002
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Ocean's Eleven

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Vanilla Sky


The Royal Tenenbaums

A Beautiful Mind

The Royal Tenenbaums

Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson

Directed By: Wes Anderson

Five stars (out of five)

And you thought your family was dysfunctional?

Well no family on the planet can top the dysfunctional Royal and his family, the Tenenbaums.

Director Wes Anderson's new film evokes knee-slapping comedy, a depressing sense of familiarity, intense sadness and uncomfortable laughter, all with little to no violence.

Gene Hackman shines as Royal Tenenbaum, the estranged patriarch who is booted from his permanent residence at a hotel. Suddenly homeless, the sinister, cranky old man seeks to return to the good life of his old family (or what he selectively remembers it as) and looks to reunite with his wife Etheline (Anjelica Huston).

On similar missions, all three of the kooky couple's children return home in attempt to nurture their lost souls. The ensemble cast shines collectively and individually, with a highlight performance by Gwyneth Paltrow as the adopted sister Margot and a show-stealing performance by Kumar Pallana as the lovable Pagoda.

Drawn to their old house, big enough for each character to have successfully hid key elements of their personalities for their entire lives, laughter is inevitable.

The hilarious visual scenes and minute details of setting aside, the genius of this film lies in its script. Anderson and Owen Wilson (who co-wrote the screenplay) have devised a surprisingly wicked and hilariously crafted plot of highs and lows, dragging its audience through the lifelines of a terribly divided family.

The Royal Tenenbaums will leave you wondering whether this film is really a satirical pick-you-up or a depressing portrait of contemporary America. Either way, it will leave you laughing your ass off.

–Molly Duignan

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Copyright The Gazette 2001