Today! Because I’ve always been considered an asshole for about as long as I can remember. That’s just my style –
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Directed by Wes Anderson (x4)
Starring Gene Hackman (x5), Angelica Huston (x4), Ben Stiller (x3), Luke Wilson (x4), Gwyneth Paltrow (x6), Owen Wilson (x5), Bill Murray (x11), Danny Glover (x2), Kumar Pallana (x2), Seymour Cassel (x3), Alec Baldwin (x4), Stephen Lea Sheppard, Andrew Wilson (x3)
Back in #267 The Life Aquatic, I posited that Wes Anderson’s distinctive style truly began with that film, but the entire blueprint was in place in The Royal Tenenbaums. While Aquatic often feels like an over-directed showcase of filmmaking more than a cohesive movie, Anderson hadn’t gotten all that carried away with himself when tackling his third film, and first after his big breakthrough on Rushmore three years earlier. It would take a little time after Aquatic to reconcile the manner of hyper-detail oriented production design with large idiosyncratic cast to compelling storylines – arguably until Moonrise Kingdom in 2012 – but the rougher version of this concept is fully on display here.
And while most of Anderson’s films work best due to their expertly crafted screenplays and oddball twists, Tenenbaums might be the only one primarily driven by the slate of tremendous performances across its eclectic cast. Hackman was purportedly a nightmare to work with on this film, but he delivers his career best comedic performance as the half charlatan patriarch Royal, in one of his last roles before retiring in ’04 (thanks for nothing, Welcome to Mooseport!). He was snubbed by the Oscars, thanks to that enduring bias against comedies, but did get a Globe nomination, plus wins at the AFI Awards, the Chicago Film Critics, and the National Society of Film Critics. The rest of the cast is no slouch either – Stiller’s apoplectic track-suited Chas, Paltrow’s morose theater maven Margot, and especially Luke Wilson’s shattered tennis pro Richie – the inspiration for one of my many failed Halloween costume efforts of years past.