"The Royal Tenenbaums", quite frankly, is superb. Filled with expertly-crafted characters, award-worthy (and winning) performances and big laughs, it's everything that your average movie isn't.
In a "Hey Jude"-accompanied opening spiel narrated by Alec Baldwin, we learn that Gene Hackman is Royal, the selfish, tactless patriarch of a family of geniuses. There's financial wiz Chas (Stiller), tennis star Richie (Luke Wilson), and adopted playwright daughter Margot (Paltrow). Royal is eventually kicked out by his wife Etheline (Huston), essentially abandoning his family.
As the movie starts, several years later, Royal is making a desperate attempt at a family reunion. Something not made easy by his increasingly dysfunctional offspring and no-nonsense spouse, who, despite harbouring deep-seated dislike or distrust for their old man, have found their lives' successes and failures intrinsically connected to him - regardless of his absence.
For anyone who has seen co-writer/director Anderson's last film "Rushmore", you'll know that he peppers his movies with quirky personalities and visual gags, and "The Royal Tenenbaums" more than lives up to that tradition.
Each of the leading characters has a vivid past and hilarious foibles, brilliantly executed by all - especially Hackman, who won a Golden Globe for his role. The landscape meanwhile - a kind of otherworldly New York - is a richly-textured tapestry.
Funny, touching, intelligent, strange... well, let's just stop before we run out of superlatives. Suffice to say that it's unlikely you'll see a better or more unique movie this year.