The Royal Tenenbaums

Amusing and intricate comedy about the extremely dysfunctional Tenenbaum family. Displaced patriarch Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) is broke and about to be thrown out of his hotel. At first he tries to wheedle his way back into his family’s good graces by pretending that he is dying of cancer. By the time this deception falls apart, he realises how much he has genuinely missed them, and he makes a genuine attempt to amend his ways, and become the father he never was.

I say “amusing”, because most of the humour is a touch too off-beat and deliberately intellectual to be genuinely “funny.” Also, although the second half of the film draws all of the storylines together, the first half really is a bit of an unfocused mess. And without having some idea of where the story was going, I found it hard to properly appreciate what it was trying to say. The resolution is satisfyingly sympathetic, though.