Christmas Can Be Cool – The Royal Tenenbaums

15 Dec

(Sorry I missed this yesterday; the tragedy in Connecticut didn’t exactly leave me with a lot of holiday cheer. I’ll double up at some point this week.)

the_royal_tenenbaums

Why am I writing about The Royal Tenenbaums? Other than Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “Christmas Time Is Here” briefly appearing on its soundtrack, it has no explicit connection to Christmas. No one considers it a “Christmas movie.” However, much of director Wes Anderson’s work has similarly tenuous connections to Christmas (Bottle Rocket‘s ending scene, Rushmore‘s “December” segment, Fantastic Mr. Fox‘s Rankin/Bass-inspired stop-motion animation), and I have a sneaking suspicion he’s as obsessed and fascinated with the holiday as I am. The Royal Tenenbaums feels the most like a Christmas movie of them all; after all, the story of an estranged father attempting to reconcile with his family already sounds like the stuff holiday Hallmark movies are made of. Add to that a winter setting, composer Mark Mothersbaugh’s vaguely Christmas-y instrumentation, and Anderson’s trademark ornate visual style, and it all becomes even more apparent. Themes of self-improvement, forgiveness, and familial affection are elements as definitive of Christmas entertainments as any other; Tenenbaums has those in spades. Royal doesn’t deserve his family’s love, but we understand if they can’t help but feel it anyway.

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2 Responses to “Christmas Can Be Cool – The Royal Tenenbaums”

  1. Sean December 20, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    Adam, clever post! Great job.

  2. rewatchability March 14, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    I’m so glad this has occurred to somebody else! I was listening to the soundtrack and it all clicked. You’re right about the Hallmark thing, Wes Anderson is pretty brilliant sometimes.

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