The Royal Tenenbaums [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: PG
- Run Time: 110 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Criterion Collection
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 14, 2012
- List Price: $39.95
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After the resounding successes of Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, director Wes Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited) and his writing partner Owen Wilson (Cars 2; Fantastic Mr. Fox) followed up with this similarly quirky and offbeat comedy about the dysfunctional Tenenbaum family. Set in an alternative, adult fairytale version of New York City, The Royal Tenenbaums is the story of the Tenenbaum family headed by lawyer Royal (Gene Hackman; The Firm; The Conversation) and his archeologist wife Evangeline (Anjelica Huston; TV’s Smash). The Tenenbaums were parents to three child geniuses, Richie (Luke Wilson) a junior tennis champ and US Nationals winner, Chas (Ben Stiller; Submarine) a financial wizard who made a killing in the real estate market, and the adopted Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow; Contagion; TV’s Glee; Bounce; The Talented Mr. Ripley), a playwright and winner of a $50 thousand Braverman grant in the ninth grade. There is also the hanger-on Eli (Owen Wilson), Richie’s best friend who wanted desperately to be member of the clan of geniuses, but who could never quite reach their level.
When one day Royal abandons the family and the Tenenbaum parents separate, but never divorce. The shock heralds the dawn of a downward spiral in the family that will last for twenty-years, each one of the Tenenbaum geniuses never living up to the promise of their young potential. Suddenly, when Evangeline receives a proposal of marriage from her longtime accountant (Danny Glover; TV’s Touch; The Color Purple), Royal re-enters the picture, feigning a fatal illness to try to convince her to take him back. It will once again mark the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of the Tenenbaums as they all gather in their family home and confront their history of lies, deceit, betrayal, and disappointment.
Perhaps not as finely tuned and charming as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums is still quite an achievement considering how courageously it tackles themes of drug abuse, hints of incest, even interracial relationships without batting an eye or ever becoming preachy or overly dramatic. It maintains its sense of levity and irony at all times, assisted in no small part by the smart dialogue and perfect use of music, like the use of Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time is Here” as an almost theme song for Margot’s malaise.
(Editor’s Note: For a different take, read our review read our The Royal Tenenbaums [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review by Lawrence Devoe)
The Royal Tenenbaums was originally captured on medium and high speed Kodak Vision 250D 5246 and Vision 500T 5279 35mm film and this director-approved restoration from Criterion appears to have captured the nuanced, warm glow of the original color palette and film-like texture of the original film quite nicely. While the detail never reaches a level where it is extremely crisp, this transfer looks to be about as natural and filmic as possible with no signs of digital manipulations and a nice thin layer of grain.
The mix for The Royal Tenenbaums is rather simplistic and straightforward with a basic amount of stereo activity across the front and a little bit of low-level atmospherics in the surround channels. With that being said, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack does the job decently with clear dialogue, a good amount of dynamic range, and accurate musical reproduction of the film’s crucial musical soundtrack.
The video supplements here have all been up-scaled to 1080i from standard definition, so there is no new HD material included with this set. The audio commentary is also from 2002.
- Commentary featuring Wes Anderson recorded by the Criterion Collection in 2002.
- With the Filmmaker (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 00:27:04) – From Independent Film Channel.
- Gene Hackman
- Anjelica Huston
- Ben Stiller
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Luke Wilson
- Owen Wilson
- Bill Murray
- Danny Glover
- Cut Scenes (2.35:1; 1080i/60; 00:01:48)
- The Peter Bradley Show (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 00:26:25) – Featuring interviews with additional cast members.
- Miguel Calderón
- Trailers (2.35:1; 1080i/60)
- Booklet: Insert with Wes Anderson’s drawings of the Tenenbaum house plus an essay by film critic Kent Jones.
The Definitive Word
The Royal Tenenbaums is another of Wes Anderson’s irresistibly charming and quirky dark comedies that is heavier on the quirk than the dark. This Criterion Collection edition comes looking a bit better, in my opinion, than the previous release of Rushmore and is a must have of any Anderson fan.
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