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The Humor of the Tenenbaums

Old 07-15-02, 06:48 PM
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The Humor of the Tenenbaums

Let me start of by saying that I loved the film and think its brilliant. Definitely a top 20 on my list. But feel free to call me an idiot if you dont agree when I say that the movie wasn't as funny as everyone said it would be.

After watching Tenenbaums for the 1st time last week and 2nd time yesterday then I am failing to see why so many people were recommending this as a "hysterically funny" movie. Ive recommended the film but "funny" isnt the first word I think of when I talk about the film.

So here's my main question. Is the humor that everyone finds here due to actual "ha ha" funny things in the film or was it because to normal people then "dysfunctional families are incredibly funny"?

As someone who is fully aware of my own family problems then I'm always drawn to movies about messed up families but thats more because i can relate than because "messed up families are hilarious". So I'm wondering what people feel on this one.
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Old 07-15-02, 06:59 PM
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I thought it was funny because of the stuff Gene Hackman says. He has the coolest lines.

"Pagoda! Meet me in the lobby! Lets HIT IT!"

"Shall we go?" -"yes sir"- "Alright, let's shag ass."

"I'm talkin about takin it out and choppin it up!"

"You gotta breed some recklessness into them!" -"thats terrible."-
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Old 07-15-02, 07:02 PM
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Contains minor spoilers...

I don't find it hysterical, but it is funny. I find the dialouge hilarious, from Gene Hackman's "Look at that big grizzly bear" and "You wanna jive talk?" scene plus the cute blank reaction shots of Uri and Uzi... it's just funny. Especially when Gwenyth's finger gets cut off by her Amish dad, thats' great It's just dry, subtle humor and the more you watch it the more amusing it becomes.

Did you think Rushmore was funny at all?
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Old 07-15-02, 07:03 PM
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Old 07-15-02, 07:28 PM
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How could you not find stuff like...

"All this closeness to death has really given me a new perspective." "But dad, you were never dying." "But I'm gonna live!"


"I don't think you're an a**hole Royal, you're just kind of a son of a bitch." "Thank you, that means a lot to me."


As someone else said, it's dry subtle humor, but the humor is definitely there and it is hilarious.

Last edited by Supermallet; 07-15-02 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 07-15-02, 07:42 PM
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Not to mention the sight of a grown man depressing his own tongue to prevent choking on it in a "seizure".

(every time)
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Old 07-15-02, 08:05 PM
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It is pretty funny, but pretty subtle as stated. Many people probably wouldn't find some of the stuff in the movie that I laughed at particulary funny.
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Old 07-15-02, 08:06 PM
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I like the scene where Hackman and Paltrow are watching Eli Cash on the Peter Bradley show. Cracks me up every time.
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Old 07-15-02, 08:15 PM
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the humor is there, and I found some moments as gut busting.

regardless. maybe some of you feel that a "hysterical comedy" needs to have a gross out scene mixed in with toilet humor. thats not always the case.
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Old 07-15-02, 08:20 PM
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I wouldn't call the humour mentioned "subtle" per se...not sure what i would call it, but it ain't subtle.

I liked the movie, but i found it more sad then anything else. Quite liked it.
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Old 07-15-02, 09:31 PM
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It's pretty funny when Dudley says "Hey, there's a dent in that taxi".
Or something like that.
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Old 07-15-02, 10:58 PM
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Man in audience: "Can the boy tell time...?"


Bill Murray: "Oh lord no! No..."

Dudley: "No."

That one always cracks me up XD~
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Old 07-15-02, 11:26 PM
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I agree that it's not "hysterically" funny, but I think it's in the delivery of the lines. Half the time you won't even realize somehting funny just happened until your watching the movie again and again.

I didn't actually laugh out loud much through it but I did chuckle quite a bit.

However, the scene where Ben Stiller shuts off the lights in Royal's room struck me as hilarious. I don't know why.

"But I'm right in the middle of a sentence!"
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Old 07-15-02, 11:30 PM
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I am a fan of Anderson's work, but I was a bit underwhelmed by RT in the humor department. I realize that it's not an out and out comedy, and toilet humor is not really my thing at all, but outside of all the Hackman scenes (which were almost invariably very funny). I just thought many of the other character interactions (Huston/Glover, and the wasted Murray) fell flat.

I did laugh uproariously when Hackman said "Alright, let's hit the cemetery."

I haven't seen Bottle Rocket in a long time so my memory is a little hazy (on my list to rewatch), but Rushmore is one of my all-time favorites, a perfect blend of euphoria and melancholy. And the laughs come from all over the place. Check out the finale, after the play with all the conversations taking place:

"I understand you're a neurosurgeon" 'You know alot of people make that mistake.'

"Best play ever, man."

"How are Ronnie and Donnie enjoying military school." 'They love it.'

And watching Max and Rosemary take the dancefloor to the strains of "Ooh La La", complete with the slow motion fade out is one of my most satisfying movie-viewing moments.

"I wish that I knew what I know now..."

Last edited by castaway190; 07-16-02 at 12:28 AM.
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Old 07-15-02, 11:37 PM
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I lose it whenever Hackman refers to Glover as "Coltrane". Dunno, it's so damn odd and hilarious...
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Old 07-15-02, 11:48 PM
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I think its one of those movies you just have to watch a couple of times before it starts to catch. When I saw it the first time, I sat through the first half thinking it was terrible and didn't see what the uproar was about, but then I started to pick up on different subtleties (sp?) and I thought it was tremendous.

The part that makes me laugh the hardest
is when Raleigh, Margot, Dudley, and Etheline are sitting in the hospital, right after Raleigh leaves Margot, Etheline says, "How long have you been smoking?" and Margot replies "22 years," and then Etheline says, "Well I think you should stop," as if nothing had just happened!

I think its just the absurdity of everything and how stoic everyone is that gets me.
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Old 07-16-02, 12:14 AM
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I found The Royal Tenenbaums to be hilarious as well. The humor is there, it's just not the normal "Your momma is so fat" kind of humor.

To add to the list of funny Royal quotes:

"Anyone want to get some cheeseburgers and hit the cemetery?"

"I'm very sorry for your loss. Your mother was a terribly attractive woman."

This line always cracks me up as well, and I know that it shouldn't given the situation:

Chas: "Is it dark?"
Richie: "Of course it's dark. It's a suicide note."

Of course what always has me laughing is when Richie goes to see Eli about Eli telling Margot of his telegram. The two paintings on the walls behind the two are hilarious. One with the 5 (i think) kids on their 4-wheelers and wearing tribal masks with their arms out like they are trying to scare someone. The other painting with 4 of the kids attacking the 5th kid. The first time I saw the movie I had no clue what Eli and Richie were saying because I was laughing so hard each time they switched views.
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Old 07-16-02, 01:21 AM
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I laugh at the part where Bill Murray's character is talking to Gwyneth's character and says, "Well I wanna die" and almost takes a bite out of a lemon cookie and he doesn't he just looks at it. It's almost that he recognizes that he wants to die but he's eating a lemon cookie at the same time. That part cracks me up.
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Old 07-16-02, 02:44 AM
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Originally posted by Ryoko
Man in audience: "Can the boy tell time...?"


Bill Murray: "Oh lord no! No..."

Dudley: "No."

That one always cracks me up XD~
Watch the movie again and try to find a clock.
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Old 07-16-02, 03:14 AM
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I had the same reaction to "Rushmore" when I saw it in the theater as I did to "The Royal Tenenbaums" - I thought it was good, but not great. However, I loved the visual style, so I picked 'em up on DVD and have to admit that with subsequent viewings they get funnier and more touching. Plus, there are so many subtle things going on that you see something new each time.

About visiting the cemetery:
"She wasn't your real grandmother."

About the play:
"It just wasn't believable... That's just one man's opinion."

And I love the line about Chas' wife being a "terribly attractive woman".

I have to say, my two favorite "new" directors are the Andersons - P.T. and Wes. They're both doing great, multi-layered, visually compelling stuff, and each seems to get better with each new film. Keep 'em coming!
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Old 07-16-02, 04:12 AM
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"ah, we have another body buried here huh"

"this is my adoptive daughter.."

the humor in it is just there and the delivery is the key to it. great performances to make a great movie.
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Old 07-16-02, 09:34 AM
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I love when they go to Eli's apartment to "intervene" and get him off drugs. He says, "Let me go get my stuff," and then high tails it. Pagoda's line is great, "There he goes..." In fact, all of Pagoda's lines crack me up. ("He got the cancer", "The black man ask her to be his wife" and who could forget, "You son of a bitch"..stabbing..)

Or when they get to the hospital after Richie's suicide attempt and they see Dudley and ask where he is. Dudley says, "Who?"
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Old 07-16-02, 11:07 AM
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While I think this is a wonderful movie, many others I have talked to about this movie don't agree with me.

I think that what the movie has going for it, that many fail to see, is that it is aware that the audience may not be quite sure how to react to it. Funny, yes. Sad, at times. However, the dialogue is some of the best words ever put on screen and the backdrop of this "make believe" New York setting is simply brilliant.
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Old 07-16-02, 11:21 AM
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I thought it was hilarious. I'm sure it's like anything else, a matter of taste, but I laughed over and over.
E.g.: Margot's husband (Bill Murray) gets a report from a P.I. about all the things his wife's been involved in that he didn't know about, and after seeing them all his only comment is: "She smokes?"
GREAT stuff...
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Old 07-16-02, 11:34 AM
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Did any of you notice the shot where Gene Hackman is looking at the framed wild boar in the hallway? I cracked up when I saw that in the theater - it was just the genius of it all, you know, the two pigs staring at each other.
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