The Royal Tenenbaums

Quirky – adj: informal terms; strikingly unconventional [syn: far-out, kinky, offbeat, way-out] Knowing the textbook definition of the term “”quirky”” before viewing The Royal Tenenbaums may help you better appreciate the film, because it is a state director Wes Anderson tries desperately to achieve. Whether he reaches it or not will depend on your tastes, and how you feel about such elements as pacing, plot and character development.

The film centers around a jerk of a fellow named Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), the type of character who describes himself as an “”asshole,”” but is corrected and told he’s “”just a real son of a bitch.”” Royal and his wife, Etheline (Anjelica Houston), have been separated for years, and the negligent husband had little to no part in raising the couple’s three children: Chas, Margot and Richie. Now, evicted from the hotel suite he’s occupied for the past 22 years, Royal attempts to patch things up with his family and, in the process, put a roof over the head of himself and his loyal servant, Pagoda (Kumar Pallana). Since Royal possesses very few endearing traits, however, the only way he can think to get close to his family is to fake a life-threatening disease.This creative premise, brimming with possibilities, would have provided most directors with an adequate springboard to dive in a number of different directions. Unfortunately, director Wes Anderson and co-writer Owen Wilson, the team responsible for the equally quirky Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, never know when enough is enough. They’re combined sense humor goes to great lengths to avoid the pedestrian, which means Royal’s children can’t be average, they must be geniuses. Chas (Ben Stiller) was a financial wiz who bred Dalmatian mice. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a playwright who staged productions by the age of 12. And Richie (Luke Wilson) was a tennis pro who eventually had a breakdown on the court and left the tour. Nothing, however, grows from these clever scenarios. As quickly as they’re introduced, they’re forgotten, replaced by new sets of foibles. Chas could have been a male stripper at age nine, and Richie the world’s youngest fireman, because in turn we forget their initial traits in favor of their deeper, more emotional pulls. Margot, who hides her chain smoking, escapes the doldrums of her loveless marriage by indulging in trysts with a family friend, Eli Cash (Owen Wilson). Chas, who recently lost his wife in a plane crash, has become a safety fanatic, and it