Blu-ray Review: The Royal Tenenbaums (Criterion Collection)

There are few, if any, living directors who have such a large cult fanbase as Wes Anderson. His work is epitomised by its unique visual style, unusual plotting, and recurring cast members. The big breakthrough came with Rushmore, but he subsequently received widespread praise for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel. However, it is perhaps The Royal Tenenbaums which is considered his greatest work to date.

Twenty-two years after leaving his wife Etheline (Anjelica Huston), a now penniless Royal (Gene Hackman) concocts a plan to get back into his estranged family’s lives. Royal finds his former prodigal children in somewhat of a slump. Former tennis star Ritchie (Luke Wilson) is dealing with a nervous breakdown by cruising the world on his yacht. Artist Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) is cheating on her husband (Bill Murray) with a friend of the family (Owen Wilson). Financial whiz Chas (Ben Stiller) has become overprotective of his children after the sudden death of their mother.

Featuring a cast full of famous faces, The Royal Tenenbaums is a delight. Anderson’s scripting has never been sharper or more on-point. He weaves comedy and tragedy around each player. As you’d expect, it’s visually mind-blowing, with a striking attention to detail in the Tenenbaum house. The Royal Tenenbaums is Wes Anderson’s most emotionally affecting film, featuring beautifully-written characters and great performances all round.

Director-Approved Special Edition Features:

  • Restored digital transfer, supervised by director Wes Anderson, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary by Anderson
  • With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles, featuring Anderson
  • Interviews with and behind-the-scenes footage of actors Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, and Danny Glover
  • Outtakes
  • The Peter Bradley Show, featuring interviews with additional cast members
  • Scrapbook featuring young Richie’s murals and paintings, still photographs by set photographer James Hamilton, book and magazine covers, and storyboards
  • Studio 360 radio segment on painter Miguel Calderón, along with examples of his work
  • Trailers
  • Collectible insert with Eric Anderson’s drawings
  • PLUS: A new essay by film critic Kent Jones

The Royal Tenenbaums is released on Blu-ray by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as part of the Criterion Collection on Monday.

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