Review – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)


the-royal-tenenbaums-58dda44bcd1f8Welcome to Genius Week: Day 4. Boy, oh, boy. Wes Anderson is certainly a weird guy, isn’t he? That’s not to say he’s a bad director, he’s just weird. For me, his films are touch and go. There are some films that he has made that made me immediately think masterpiece while other films make me wonder what’s even going on in the first place. The Royal Tenenbaums is one of his more famous films that I’ve never actually seen before this week, so I thought I’d give it a shot since it popped up when I googled movies about geniuses. So, what’s it about?

Well, Royal Tenenbaum is a man claiming to be deathly ill and wanting to make things right with his peculiar family before he passes. His children were seen as prodigies when they were younger, all with their own unique abilities. As they’ve grown, they’ve all mostly abandoned their gifts.

Being genius week, I just want to say this film isn’t about geniuses. There was a slight possibility of that happening when the film began, but that basic concept was mostly disregarded in the rest of the film. They aren’t geniuses, they’re just weird….and monotone. So off the bat, I noticed that there’s a strong emphasis on visuals and characters, but very little to any overall story and it isn’t really about geniuses like I thought it would be. This shift in overall direction equaled out to a bit of a disappointment. So, I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a winning Wes Anderson film, but I can’t deny that it totally feels like his type of film.

Those were my first impressions, so now let’s dig deep and break the film down, shall we?


Acting – 1|Characters – 2|Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 2

As I said earlier, the characters in the film are clearly the main focus, so this was bound to get a high score. I would have originally given the acting a zero since they were all so monotone and robotic you can barely call that a real challenge. However, that was the intended outcome. Wes Anderson likes his features weird, and the monotone acting did help that, so I will at least reward that with half points. Next up is characters, in which everyone in this film is super colorful and diverse, and you will certainly remember it for the characters – given the name of their family is in the title. The casting is equally as fantastic. I can’t complain about anyone. There are just too many wonderful names involved. As for chemistry, it’s increasingly strange, but somehow the monotone personas of the characters worked so extremely well together…so again, nothing to complain about there.

Dialogue – 2|Balance – 1|Story – 1|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2

Next up, we have the writing score, which received 80%. The dialogue, as with most Wes Anderson films, is unique and memorable. However, I wouldn’t really call this a highly balanced film. It starts out okay, but somewhere down the line, it goes in a completely opposite direction and starts focusing on the kids more, and that’s fine. Focus on them without changing the overall story and goal…unfortunately, that’s not what happens here. The story isn’t entirely deep, it’s mostly about wonderfully strange and diverse characters, which isn’t a story. It has the elements of a good story, but those elements are under-utilized. I would, however, call this very interesting overall and absolutely original.

BTS SCORE – 10/10
Visuals – 2|Directing – 2|Editing – 2|Advertisement – 2|Music – 2

Alright, so the stuff going on behind-the-scenes was good, as it received a perfect score. The visuals were top notch, as always. Like I said, Wes Anderson isn’t a bad director. He may be weird, but he’s certainly not a bad director. He did a fine job directing everything in this film. The editing was just as impressive, adding to the natural vibe and feel of the flick. I would consider this as advertised, and the music choices they had in the movie were pretty good as well.

Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 1|Falling Action – 2

Alright, so the narrative arc score almost got a perfect score as well. The introduction had a prolonged introductory monologue about who the Tenenbaums are and how they basically got to that point when it fast forwards into modern day. The inciting incident is when Royal tells everyone he’s dying and they ultimately let him live there while he makes things right with everyone. The obstacles come down to quite a few different things between the kids, between the adults, between the kids and adults…it’s a dysfunctional family, you understand. There isn’t really a clear climax, though. There sort of is, but it’s less about the culmination of every event in the film as it is a culmination of events in their personal perspective of the events in and out of the film. I know, weird, but that’s what it is. The falling action, on the other hand, is pretty clear and evident – and done properly.

Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks you in – 2

How entertaining is it? Well, I would probably rewatch it if I saw it airing on TV or something, but I really doubt I’ll go out of my way to actually find it, so that’s half points there. I do consider it a pretty fun film that has no issue sucking you into its peculiar ways, but I have zero impulses to buy it, to own it, or to even discuss it with anyone. I saw it, it was fine, and that’s pretty much where the story ends.

Genius Week – 0|Comedy – 5|Weird – 10|Wes Anderson – 10|Halfway Decent – 10

This brings us to the specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the film. The first question comes down to the specialty week, so how was the genius factor in this? Like I said before, there’s really not any geniuses in this film, so I feel duped there. It is mostly listed as a comedy, though – so how was the comedy? I think the comedy was mostly fine, but it could have been much better. The next two kind of go hand-in-hand. It’s a Wes Anderson film that looks super weird, so one – can you tell it’s Wes Anderson – oh yes. Was it weird in a good way? Mostly, absolutely. Finally, was this movie halfway decent? Yes.

TOTAL – 77/100

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