Royal Dysfunction


Royal DysfunctionThe Royal Tenenbaums is a film about family relationships including divorce and separation.  It is one of Wes Anderson’s finest films featuring twisted, kinky, loving,  cheated and needy people who make up a mostly neurotic family. Why would I choose to highlight this film on my blog?  Simple.  It’s a great example of taking situations related to divorce and making them funny…and…if the Royal Tenenbaums can get through their outrageous problems so can we…

In the center of the family is Ethelene Tenenbaum, the mother played beautifully by Angelica Huston.  She is reluctantly holding it all together when family members return home for her support, including Royal himself.

Ethelene Tenenbaum
Ethelene Tenenbaum

The family has seen better times and not undue to the fact that Royal Tenebaum left them high and dry years ago. He is back though  and wreaking even more havoc on this already dysfunctional family.

The film tells a story of tragedy and comedy in equal measure using  minimal words.

For example, the deadpan dialogue between Margot (Royal and Ethelene’s daughter) and her much older husband, Raleigh…

margot and raleighRaleigh:  “How long do you intend to stay here?”

Margot:  “I don’t know.”

Raleigh:  “Are you ever coming home?”

Margot:  “Maybe not.”

Raleigh:  “You’re joking.”

Margot:  “No.”

Raleigh:  “Well, I want to die.”

In a scene later in the film, Raleigh confronts Margot.  Again, the terse and minimal dialogue creates irony and humor in its simplicity.  If only our real life conversations could be as succinct and emotionless…

Raleigh:  “You’ve made a cuckold of me.”

Margot:  “I know.”

Raleigh:  “Many times over.”

Margot:  “I’m sorry.”

 FYI, a Cuckold is a male Cuckoo bird.  The female Cuckoo bird is known to take several mates and nest in multiple places.  For some reason men like to use this term if their wife is suspected of (or is) cheating.  Women don’t name their philandering husbands after a species of the wild.  They simply call him a ‘cheat’.  Maybe we should come up with a term equally endearing?

Here’s a look at Ethel and Royal’s relationship…many years after she asked him for a divorce he still hasn’t signed the papers…refusing to accept the finality of his divorce.


 Royal (played by Gene Hackman) pictured here out for a go kart ride with his grandsons whom he is forbidden to see…

Royal Dysfunction

 The film comes to a close with this dialogue between Royal and Ethelene…

Royal: “I love you Ethel.”

Ethel: “Are we divorced?”

Royal: “Yes, we just have to file the papers. Now I know what you see in him. He’s everything I’m not. “

—-“I wish you both the best.”

The film is wacky, kinky, kooky and makes us realize we need not take our problems too seriously…and bonus…it is narrated by Alec Baldwin with that irony I’m so fond of.

Who is your favorite character?  Leave a comment, I LOVE ’em!


image source; pinterest


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11 Replies to “Royal Dysfunction”

    1. Haha, yes! Ritchie and Eli were also great characters in this film. I’ll have to check out your post! Every time I see this movie I find something else to laugh about. Thanks Natalie.

    1. Definitely add to your list, Beverly. Especially if you are an Angelica Huston fan. I just loved her in this one. 🙂 P.S thanks for the correct spelling of her name.

  1. I loved the Royal Tenenbaums, Lisa! My spontaneous reaction was to say that Margot was my favorite because of my huge movie crush. But, after taking a breath, it would be a toss up between Raleigh and Royal. Great post! 🙂

    1. I think I had a girl crush on Margot. But when I take deep breath (haha) I love Ethelene. But then there’s Chaz…

    1. Yes! It’s hilarious. The first time I saw it I didn ‘t really appreciate it (I was a newlywed). Now, it’s brilliant! Thanks for stopping by Kim 🙂

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