[MOVIE REVIEW]Royally screwed up - and fun

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[MOVIE REVIEW]Royally screwed up - and fun

Imagine that you are an adoptee who won a Pulitzer at 15, lost a finger (chopped off) while meeting your natural parents and married a jittery neurologist who does not know that you've been smoking for the last 12 years. Plus, your brother loves you so dearly that he tried to kill himself. Well, I cannot imagine that either, but such is the premise of "The Royal Tenenbaums," opening March 29.

Tales of secrets and tragedies are revealed hilariously in this film about an extremely odd family, the Tenenbaums. The most eccentric and enthralling of them all is Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), the patriarch of the clan, but who has been estranged from his family for years. His wife (Anjelica Huston) is an archaeologist and his three children are all prodigies.

Once a successful businessman in the heart of New York, Royal's life, like those of the other Tenenbaums, has long been less than joyous. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) is the aforementioned Pulitzer Prize winner. Chas (Ben Stiller) has been a real estate whiz since ninth grade, but since his wife died in a plane crash, he spends all his time in a red Adidas outfit, obsessing over her. Richie (Luke Wilson) was a teen tennis virtuoso who won three consecutive national titles before losing his confidence after a bad loss.

After nearly two decades, Royal gets kicked out of the hotel room where he lived. He decides to try to go back to his family and see how everyone has fared. In a cheap play for sympathy, he tells everyone that he is dying of cancer.

The film starts off with an array of episodes which are offbeat and more than lacking in common sense, but extremely funny.

The actors in this film are all outstanding, but most of all it's the script and the directing that make the film so great (indeed, "The Royal Tenenbaums" has been nominated for an Academy Award for best screenplay). The writer and director Wes Anderson ("Rushmore") does not try to manipulate the story in ways people are familiar with or expect. On the contrary, he cheerfully explores the Tenenbaums' many dysfunctions in a manner that is lighthearted and entertaining.

In a way, we all resemble the characters in the film - perhaps not identically, though most people have their special secrets and tragedies. The film gives you a sense that when all is said and done, life need not be so hard, if you just say "I need help." After all, c'est la vie.

by Chun Su-jin

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