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Movie Review: The Royal Tenenbaums

Story: What's the difference between a dysfunctional family of genius' and one that's not? I think it is a matter of STYLE - and this film has a very entertaining quirky style. Director and co-writer Wes Anderson treats us to his continuing unique vision of family. The format is presented like a children's book with the use of chapters and a narrator (as you know, I don't normally like narrators but it works very well here). Within 15 minutes we have been cleverly introduced to all of the characters and then get to enjoy their antics for the next 90 minutes. The family patriarch, Royal Tenenbaum, now broke, weasels his way back into his estranged wife's home after leaving 22 years before. His three adult children, all now has-been child prodigies, end up under the same roof. What ensues is worth your price of admission. The film is about redemption, forgiveness, death and above all, family.

I applaud Anderson's use of the unfilmed New York City, from Inwood (upper Manhattan to the outer boroughs). You know you are in New York, but where? This special view of the not too often filmed New York City is odd as is his portrayal of family ... familiar, yet odd. The Tenenbaum's New York is uncrowded and a bit out of sync. Perhaps they are so much larger than life there isn't very much room for anyone else. The gray, late autumn snow sky is also a perfect effect for this enjoyable film.

Acting: Gene Hackman walks away with the picture. He is one of our finest actors and deserves great praise. It is always nice to see the much underutilized Angelica Houston. She gives every film she is in, more class. Co-writer Owen Wilson (Behind Enemy Lines) is terrific as is his real life brother Luke Wilson. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller (who tends to play all of his comedies the same way, but I still like him) were all fine. Danny Glover and Bill Murray, while very understated were fun to watch. Kumar Pallana, the Indian man servant cracked me up. And Alec Baldwin, as the narrator, could read me a bedtime story whenever he wants.

Critters: Mordecai the Falcon, Buckley the Beagle, Sparkplug the Dalmation and some very funny genetically altered mice.

Food: Many burgers.

Visual Art: Lots of funny line drawing children's art.

Blatant Product Placement: Fila

Soundtrack: Terrific.

Opening Titles: Terrific.

Theater Audience: Ten years ago, when I started to attend films at odd times of the day, I was practically alone in the theater except for some crackpot with a thousand plastic bags and an imaginary friend who they would talk with during the film. Recently, the theaters have become more and more crowded at all showings. Is everyone just cutting out of work? Is unemployment really that high? Is everyone a movie reviewer? Or are more people not in the old 9 to 5 mode? Anyone, the movie was packed at 11 on the morning on a Tuesday. OY!

Quirky Meter: 5

Predictability Level: I really didn't know where this film was going.

Oscar Worthy: No (although Gene Hackman could probably get a nomination for any film he is in).

Nit Picking: Nothing.

Big Screen or Rental: Go for the big screen and you could rent the other two Anderson films, Rushmore and Bottle Rocket.

Length: 105 minutes.

LOBO HOWLS: 8