#BRWC10: Review – The Royal Tenenbaums

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC The 10 Best Movies About Genius

Wes Anderson helms this one, with his extraordinary ability to indulge in both disarming emotional drama and extreme cuteness. He is surrounded by his usual suspects: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson (credited as a co-writer) and Ben Stiller in a standout role.

The Tenenbaum children are all prodigies, achieving farcical success at young ages (Chas, for example, is a math and business genius, selling real estate at age ten). As adults, they are finding less success, and have all been separated from each other for many years. Their father, Royal Tenenbaum, fakes a cancer diagnosis in reflexive retaliation to his ex-wife impending re-marriage.



Due to this, the whole family congregates once more under the same roof – typical Wes Anderson dialogue and sketches ensue. What better way to celebrate #BRWC10?

What is really great about this film are the themes of growing up. Chas has two younger sons and this comically overprotective of them, however we learn the compulsion stems from his wife’s untimely death. He is desperate to keep his children innocent and protect them from the hard life outside bubble wrap.

The family comes together in what can only be described as a benign explosion of temperament and discord. The humour comes through the dialogue dripping in wit, with the actors’ timing perfectly suiting the stilted storytelling. One of Wes Anderson’s early films that showed the world what he was capable of – and he shows us what this family is capable of with a little shoplifting, tennis playing and some fucked up family dinners.


The Royal Tenenbaums is a 2001 American comedy-drama film directed by Wes Anderson and co-written with Owen Wilson. The film stars Danny Glover, Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Owen Wilson. Ostensibly based on a non-existent novel, and told with a narrative influenced by the literature of J.D. Salinger, the story follows the lives of three gifted siblings who experience great success in youth, and even greater disappointment and failure in adulthood. The children’s eccentric father Royal Tenenbaum (Hackman) leaves them in their adolescent years, returning to them after they have grown, and falsely claiming to have a terminal illness. Long after he was shunned by his family, Royal gradually reconciles with his children and ex-wife (Huston).


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Lauren Turner is an Australian media specialist and keen cinephile. She loves Robert Eggers and can be found at her local offbeat cinema in Melbourne.

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