The Royal Tenenbaums

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The Royal Tenenbaums is the 2001 half-comedy, half-drama about three genius siblings who experience great success in youth, and even greater disappointment and failure after their eccentric father leaves them in their adolescent years.

The father, Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), returns to his family more than a decade later, faking a case of stomach cancer, after he is evicted from his room at the Lindbergh Palace Hotel and disbarred from practising law. The film is the story of how Royal comes back to his family to save them from the unexpected wreckage of their lives.

Also of note is that the siblings of the Tenenbaum family—all highly intelligent, disillusioned New Yorkers struggling with their own identities—are loosely based on a rabble of similarly disillusioned siblings from the later books of famed author J.D. Salinger. The Glass family, comprised of seven child-prodigy-turned-adult-misanthrope characters, is the central subject of three of Salinger's five published books, and form the basis for the quirky and unhappy Tenenbaum family, as director Wes Anderson revealed in an interview with Premiere magazine conducted in January 2001.

Perhaps the film's most endearing aspect, however, is its remarkable casting, which includes Anjelica Huston as Etheline Tenenbaum, Owen Wilson as Eli Cash, Luke Wilson as Richie Tenenbaum, Ben Stiller as Chas Tenenbaum, Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot Tenenbaum, and Bill Murray as Raleigh St. Clair. Gene Hackman won a Golden Globe for his performance and the screenplay by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson was nominated for an Academy Award.

A rather off-beat, ironic sense of humour pervades the entire film, as with all of Anderson's work, manifest as a tone of hilarious tragedy and as pleasure taken in the small joys of conversation and comradery.

Other films by Anderson include Bottle Rocket (1996) and Rushmore (1998), which were co-written by Anderson and Owen Wilson, and more recently The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), written by Anderson and Noah Baumbach. As with these other efforts, the music of The Royal Tenenbaums is partly composed and compiled by ex-Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh. The selections are very compelling, and make themselves an integral part of the film.


Some Royal Tenenbaums characters are lovable, others despicable, but all are quirky and, in an odd way, hilarious. Their openly emotional exchanges and frustrations are the focus of this film.

  • Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) - An excellent lawyer but a terrible father, he intentionally shot one of his sons with a BB gun during a game, and constantly refers to his daughter in public as "my adopted daughter Margot." In one scene, he lies in bed hooked up to an IV machine, faking stomach cancer, while eating a cheeseburger.
  • Etheline Tenenbaum (Anjelica Huston) - The mother of the Tenenbaum children, who "makes their education her top priority" and helps them climb to fame. Later on, Ethel finds love in Henry Sherman, her accountant, the complete opposite of her estranged husband Royal.
  • Chas Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller) - A genius in international finance, Chas sued his father twice and had him disbarred because of the bonds his father stole from his safety deposit box when he was fourteen.
  • Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow) - A brilliant playwright, Margot ran away from home for a year and came back with half of one of her fingers missing. She married the psychiatrist Raleigh St. Clair and spends most of her time moping in her bathtub, watching television. She smokes, unbeknownst to anyone else in her family.
  • Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) - A tennis prodigy, Richie is secretly in love with his adopted sister, Margot.
  • Eli Cash (Owen Wilson) - A "friend of the family" since the Tenenbaum children were very young, Eli is the non-genius character who provides a foil for the Tenenbaum family with his burning desire to "be a Tenenbaum," and his later success as an author of Western novels after the Tenenbaum family's fame has already faded.
  • Henry Sherman (Danny Glover) - Ethel Tenenbaum's accountant and, eventually, romantic interest.
  • Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray) - Husband of the secretive Margot Tenenbaum and famed (and strange) neurologist. Anderson has mentioned that St. Clair was based on Oliver Sacks.


Family Isn't A Word... It's A Sentence
You Are Invited To A Remarkable Family Gathering.

External links

Template:Footer Movies Wes Andersonit:I Tenenbaum sv:Royal Tenenbaums


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