The Royal Tenenbaums

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This painfully hilarious tragi-comedy from Wes Anderson essays the epic misadventures of a misanthropic patriarch and his brilliant but spectacularly dysfunctional family as they spiral into glorious chaos. With The Royal Tenebaums, Anderson (along with his frequent star/co-writer Owen Wilson) leapt from the intimate character studies of his previous films into the realm of the sprawling family saga without losing his keen observational eye or his fondness for the absurd. Gene Hackman is both hilarious and devastating as Royal Tenenbaum, the head of a self-destructive family of oddball geniuses who struggle to connect with each other and the world at large. Tenenbaum and his wife, Etheline (Anjelica Huston), had three children – Chas, Margot, and Richie – and then they separated. Chas (Ben Stiller) started buying real estate in his early teens and seemed to have an almost preternatural understanding of international finance. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a playwright and received a Braverman Grant of $50,000 in the ninth grade. Richie (Luke Wilson) was a junior champion tennis player and won the U.S. Nationals three years in a row. Unfortunately, virtually all memory of the brilliance of the young Tenenbaums was subsequently vaporized by two decades of betrayal, failure, and disaster. Funny, sad and bewildering (sometimes within the same scene!), The Royal Tenenbaums is a unique and brilliantly stylized study of melancholy and redemption. (Dir. by Wes Anderson, 2001, USA, 110 mins., Rated R) Digital