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Three grown prodigies, all with a unique genius of some kind, and their mother are staying at the family household. Their father, Royal had left them long ago, and comes back to make things right with his family. Written by
I still remember the first time I saw The Royal Tenenbaums. Principally, it was the box art that drew me in - Ben Stiller dressed in a red tracksuit with two sons wearing the same clothing? Gene Hackman raising an alcoholic drink with a cheeky smile plastered across his face? Bill Murray? Both the Wilson brothers at the same time? Surely, this would be one of the funniest films of all time, with a cast like that, how could it fail? Well I have to hand it to the art designers and the hype machine because they fooled me completely, as The Royal Tenenbaums turned out to be one of those comedies that is "off-beat," "dark" and "intelligent," but forgets to be "funny." Still, I'm a bit of a glutton for punishment some times so I sat through the entire film and was rewarded for my perseverance with over two hours of utter tedium. Worse, it is so depressing that by the time the credits started rolling, I'd found myself suffering crippling emotional pains from a vast range of personal demons that up until that moment, I wasn't aware I had.
The story consists of Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), patriarch of his clan trying to re-unite the family after years of mistrust and in-fighting. He brings them all together by feigning illness and sets about trying to rekindle family loyalty, while the rest of them try to overcome their particular neuroses. Consequently, pretty much the whole film consists of uninteresting, self-obsessed New Yorkers moping around feeling sorry for themselves. Gwyneth Paltrow's character Margot for instance is depressed because...well, because she is basically. Nigh on every character has but a single facial expression for the entire duration and can you guess what that expression is? It's despair. Agonising, gut-wrenching despair.
In short, this is just about the most over-hyped, self-indulgent piece of hipster rubbish I've ever seen. Hackman possesses his usual charisma but even he is not enough to save this train wreck of a comedy. The first time I saw it I thought it was more depressing than being stuck in a room with a recently-dumped teenage Goth reading poetry aloud. This week I stuck it on again just to see if I was mistaken in that judgement but nope, I was right. If anything it's got more grim with age. Comedies are meant to be funny people!
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