The Royal Tenenbaums

The Royal Tenenbaums ★★½

At the risk of being labeled a contrarian, I think later Wes Anderson, when he’s just tinkering around with his sets and props, is usually better Wes Anderson. The “feeling” parts of this thinly veiled, adolescent crie de coeur are the least convincing; they seem showy, immature and even shallow. The best parts are where Anderson indulges his inner Joseph Cornell, lets his freak flag fly, and art directs the heck out of the frame. It’s at those moments where Anderson’s authentic self really shows: he’s a man-child saddled with a robust naïveté that’s been extrapolated into an organizing principle for the world around him. The inhabitants of Wes-world are essentially overgrown children, and when they are driven by the inner logic of children, his world makes sense, but when they try to take on the profundity of grown ups, it rings hollow. Something less than half of this movie operates in that modality; the other more-than-half does not, and it’s much less successful.

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