In their youth, the Tenenbaums--an eccentric New York family--were extraordinary. They were all geniuses. Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) was a successful litigator. His wife Etheline (Angelica Huston) raised their children to be ambitious, entrepreneurial, and creative--then published an acclaimed book about her child-rearing techniques. Adopted daughter Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a gifted playwright. Son Chas (Ben Stiller) was a masterful businessman with a taste for real estate. And the other son, Richie (Luke Wilson), was a natural tennis champ. However, when Royal packed up his life and left his wife and his family in a cloud of betrayal, everything fell apart. Twenty years later, the Tenenbaums are a dejected and alienated bunch, each having found that their early successes did not carry over into adulthood. When washed-up Royal learns that his distant wife Etheline, who has become an archaeologist, may remarry, he feigns illness as an excuse to reunite with his estranged family.
From Wes Anderson, director of RUSHMORE, this film is full of quirky comedy that will have audiences reeling and reflecting simultaneously. The brilliant script is impeccable with choppy, intentionally awkward language delivered with dry wit by the well-appointed (almost too good to be true) cast. Dramatic sets are emphasized by the film's masterful orchestration of scene changes and chapter separations. The photography beautifully captures a faded, vintage 1980s New York. And the eclectic soundtrack features much-loved tunes by Nico, The Velvet Underground, The Clash, and the Vince Guaraldi Trio.