An estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when their father announces he has a terminal illness.
Wes Anderson, the director of "Rushmore," has made a movie that the precocious adolescent hero of that film might have made: show-offy, self-impressed, but with sparks of undeniable insight and ingenuity. Set in a New York dreamworld confected out of children's books and antique New Yorker fiction, "Tenenbaums" purports to explore the lives of a family of child geniuses, some of their friends and their estranged parents. With a few exceptions, the cast does an admirable job of finding what life there is in Mr. Anderson's static, literary creatures, but it is impossible to believe that these people have much to do with one another, or with anything outside their creator's hothouse imagination. The Tenenbaums are less a family than a collection of dolls fussed over by a compulsive collector. The only actor who succeeds in breaking through the suffocating whimsy is Gene Hackman as Royal, the clan's wildly irresponsible patriarch. – A. O. Scott
2001-10-05 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of The Royal Tenenbaums