The Royal Tenenbaums
***.6 GM
Starring: Gene Hackman, Angelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Danny Glover, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kumar Pallana, Bill Murray


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Gene Hackman is a fabulous man.

One of these days, I gotta see that whole "French Connection" thing, what won Oscars or somethin', because Gene Hackman is the star of it. The more I pay attention to this guy, the more I like him. He saved "Heartbreakers" and he MADE "Heist" this year alone.

In this film, he makes a lovable bastard you can't help but root for. Royal Tenenbaum has been a shit his whole life, fostering a family of geniuses with Etheline (Huston) and then abandoning them when they're teenagers, only to come back when they've become psychologically jiffy-popped adults in an attempt to repent for his ridiculous treatment of them. Of course, he has to pretend he's dying to get them to even speak to him, which makes for more hijinks.

The humor in this film has an oddly freewheeling zany subtlety, which seems to be a unique characteristic of Wes Anderson films. It's a relentlessly interesting vibe he seems to create each time out which is hard to define yet easy to enjoy. "Bottle Rocket" had this, "Rushmore" had it in spades and it's permeating this film once again. You never really laugh your ass off at these comedies, but you get a good feeling throughout, because whatever happens is bound to be genuinely surprising and pleasantly off-kilter.

As a film that focuses on the diverse lives of the intelligent, it's tempting to think that perhaps this story could be a glimpse of a possible future for "Rushmore's" Max Fischer after he grows up and experiences a cavalcade of harsh realities that his bravado can't overcome and becomes a miserable, depressed and snarky sourpuss. A "spiritual sequel," if you will. Maybe you won't, though.

It's not a "feel-good" movie by any means, but I felt good anyway coming out of this film. I wanted Gene Hackman to be my new dad.

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