Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke Wilson are the once-gifted siblings whose failings as adults become all too clear when their parents (Gene Hackman and Anjelica Huston) assemble the family to make a fateful pronouncement. Combining with co-star Owen Wilson on a script brimming with mordant wit and amusing side-steps, director Wes Anderson takes a uniquely skewed look at the weight of expectation and potential unfulfilled. Of course, with Bill Murray and Danny Glover finding elbow room in an already talent-heavy cast, and he couldn't go far wrong.
"Every now and then there comes a film which shows imagination way beyond the normal and this is one of them.
Essentially it's the story of a deeply dysfunctional family suddenly reunited and trying to sort itself out.
The head of this clan is Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), a disbarred and jailed lawyer who had abruptly abandoned the family ages ago to live a penurious life in a hotel.
Now, broke, homeless and pretending to be terminally ill, he wants to wheedle his way back in.
But what a neurotic mess he finds in the old homestead.
His wife, Anjelica Huston, is having an affair she doesn't really want with her bridge partner, Danny Glover.
While the children (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson), former youthful prodigies, are all in emotional turmoil.
Their early genius, as writer, financier and tennis champion, has quite vanished in a welter of failure and their father's betrayal.
Because, yes, it's dad they blame, quite rightly, for their present state.
In truth there's not much plot here but it doesn't matter because the characters, dialogue and mood of the piece are immaculately crafted by director Wes Anderson and his co-writer Owen Wilson.
What they have created is a bizarre family which could never have survived in a fanciful Manhattan that could never have existed.
And the result is that rarity - a sharp, witty, comedy with plenty of heart and not an ounce of sentimentality.
The Royal Tenenbaums is delightfully funny but it also contrives, sneakily, to be very touching. And it's beautifully played by an immaculate cast."