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*****THE REEL DEAL: Reviewz from the Street*****

BIASES: mid 20s black male; frustrated screenwriter who favors action, comedy, and glossy, big budget movies over indie flicks, kiddie flicks, and weepy Merchant Ivory fare

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THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS

MOVIE BIASES: Looks quirkly outstanding.

MAJOR PLAYERS: Gene Hackman (Behind Enemy Lines), Ben Stiller (Meet the Parents), Gwyneth Paltrow (Shallow Hal), Luke Wilson (Blue Streak), actor/co-writer Owen Wilson (Behind Enemy Lines), and writer/director Wes Anderson (Rushmore).

Genius is never appreciated. At least not in this lifetime. In Wes Anderson's latest offbeat comedy "The Royal Tenenbaums," genius is on full display, even if coherence and entertainment isn't.

The geniuses in question are Chas (Stiller), Richie (Wilson), and Margot (Paltrow) Tenenbaum. All were child prodigies, all are now universally screwed up. Chas started trading stocks and bonds in the ninth grade, Richie won five tennis championships before flaming out in his early 20's, and Margot won a Pulitzer for a play she wrote in the ninth grade. They stood a chance at normalcy if it weren't for their self-centered father Royal Tenenbaum (Hackman). After years of neglect, Royal informs the family that he's dying and he convinces the grown up children to move back in with their mother Etheline (Anjelica Huston), who's set to marry her soft-spoken accountant (Danny Glover). While he knows he may never win his wife back, Royal sets out to make things right with his family before his six weeks are up.

I guess the acting is fine in this movie, but that would assume that I knew what the hell was going on. This movie is a quirk in search of a movie. At first, I thought it was amusing how offbeat this world Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson had created. The 375th Street Y? Crappy looking "gypsy" cabs? And what's with the falcon? Look, I won't front that I have the foggiest idea what's going on here, but the novelty of my ignorance is the exact problem with this movie. I fashion myself to be a fairly intelligent guy, yet I was lost under the mountain of quirks, idiosyncrasies, and general controlled insanity. Why does Margot spend hours in the tub, only answering the door with her toes? Don't know. Why does Richie take off on a cruise hotel for years on end? Don't know. Why does Chas dress his two boys (Uzi and Ari, mind you) in matching red Adidas sweatsuits? Don't know. But by this point, I don't care. While the production design is a wonderfully colorful world of pure idiosyncrasy, I would like a little bit of sense with my nonsense. I was so distracted by the incoherence of this Anderson-Wilson created world, I couldn't concentrate on the basics like, oh, say, plot, character development, and the like. I laughed many times just because the movie is loony tunes. But the heart of the film gets buried under a mountain of quirk. Just because a movie is quirky and offbeat does not mean it's good. And while this may be genius to Wes Anderson, like genius, this movie comes off as misunderstood.

@ REEL (ONE REEL) If you can't sneak in, don't go in.

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2001, THE REEL DEAL

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