Journey into Wes Anderson: The 'Tenenbaums' Challenge

Royal Tenenbaums from NetflixOver the next month I am going to be rewatching Wes Anderson's six feature films and two shorts in advance of a "Rank and File" piece leading up to the premiere of his new film Moonrise Kingdom at the Cannes Film Festival. These films include the following:

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
  • Hotel Chevalier* (2007)
  • The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
  • The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
  • The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
  • Rushmore (1998)
  • Bottle Rocket (1996)
  • Bottle Rocket* (1994)

Of those eight titles only two would I immediately jump up and watch over again, and ironically they are Anderson's first and last directorial features -- Bottle Rocket and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Of the bunch there is only one I am not excited about watching whatsoever... As the headline implies, that title is The Royal Tenenbaums, the only film Anderson has ever made that I do not own.

To be fair, I have never really given Tenenbaums a fair shot. A friend of mine wanted to watch it back in 2003 or thereabouts and after about 15 minutes I checked out. I just was not feeling it and haven't returned to it since. Will this journey into Wes Anderson offer me a new found appreciation for Tenenbaums or perhaps even Rushmore, a film that is probably Anderson's most popular and one I have never really connected with.

I've never been able to understand my feelings for Anderson's work and how I could love Bottle Rocket and Fantastic Mr. Fox so much and still be so lukewarm on the rest of his films. Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll have an answer.

As I get underway, I was curious, do you have a favorite Anderson film? Any particular reasons why or things you think I should be on the lookout for?

* short film

  • bob goyette

    You're thinking exactly what I was. I just watch the life aquatic again last week (I love Rushmore) and I thought of giving the Royal Tanenbaums another shot. I watched it years ago and didn't warm up to it either. It's got an incredible cast and I have no doubt about Wes's ability. Maybe I was just distracted. I have yet to see Bottle Rocket although after you're recommendation I'll give that a try as well. I hope we both have good luck.

  • Andrew M

    Haven't seen Life Aquatic or Darjeeling, but I have loved the rest of his movies. I play, also, on watching his movies leading up to Moonrise Kingdom.

    1. Rushmore
    2. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
    3. The Royal Tenenbaums (these 3 are interchangeable, depending on my mood)
    4. Bottle Rocket (Have only seen it once though. so I may like it better a second time.

  • Kyle

    I absolutely love The Royal Tenenbaums though, this is not the first time I've been in the minority on this. I'd rank Wes Anderson films like this:

    1. The Royal Tenebaums
    2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    3. The Darjeeling Limited
    4. Bottle Rocket
    5. Rushmore*
    6. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

    *I've also gotten a lot of crap for my lukewarm feelings towards Rushmore as well (though I still really like it!)

  • SmartFilm

    I personally hold The Royal Tenabaums as one of the best movies of all time. It captures these near intangible feelings of hope within despair, meaning within chaos and love within loss. It's brilliantly acted, shamelessly quirky and every single detail is given the utmost care (as you realize while watching the behind the scenes features). Hope you can find it a film worth appreciating this time round.

  • WillE

    6. Life Aquatic
    5. Royal Tennenbaums
    4. Darjeeling Limited
    3. Bottle Rocket
    2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    1. Rushmore

    Teenebaums and Life Aquatic are the only two I don't love.

  • Highland

    It's hard to rank Wes Andersons films because he has made 6 great films in my opinon. But if I had to rank them this is what my list would be as of now:

    1. The Royal Tenenbaums
    2. Rushmore
    3. Fantastic Mr Fox.
    4. The Life Aquatic
    5. The Darjeeling Limited
    6. Bottle Rocket.

    • TORRYZ

      Highland's got it right!

  • John Debono

    1. Rushmore
    2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    3. Darjeeling Limited
    4. Royal Tennebaums
    5. Bottle Rocket
    6. Life Aquatic
    This list is kind of interchangeable, though I think of Bottle Rocket, as being Anderson's Mean Streets. A fantastic debut that establishes the director's distinctive voice... but is simply not as strong as their other films.

    • Dsimolke

      But you do realize Mean Streets wasn't Scorsese's debut movie.

      • John Debono

        I am aware Boxcar Bertha is his technical debut, but I think Mean Streets is the film that is commonly viewed as his breakthrough and the one where he really establishes his identity as a filmmaker. Boxcar Bertha is more a Corman production than a Scorsese film.

  • Drew

    Interesting tidbit: In an interview, Martin Scorsese cited Wes Anderson as "the next Martin Scorsese". And that was ten years ago. Anyway I love some of Anderson's films more than others, but I am extremely excited for Moonrise Kingdom.

    1. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    2. Royal Tennenbaums
    3. Rushmore
    4. Bottle Rocket
    5. Darjeeling Limited
    6. Life Aquatic

  • Daniel Wolfe

    1. Rushmore/The Darjeeling Limited
    2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    3. The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
    4. Bottle Rocket
    5. The Royal Tenenbaums

    As I've very much enjoyed all of Wes' films this is how I would rank them. Note Rushmore and Darjeeling are tied for first. I would say Rushmore is my number one favorite until I watch The Darjeeling Limited and it's so great it makes me question whether or not it's my favorite. Rushmore is a better comedy and is an amazing movie but in my opinion what Darjeeling lacks in laughs it makes up for in story. It's a more personal movie to me than Rushmore is.

  • henri

    1. Bottle Rocket
    2. Rushmore
    3. LIfe Aquatic
    4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    5. Royal Tennenbaums
    6. Darjeeling Limited

  • Forrest Gump

    1.Bottle Rocket
    2.The Royal Tenenbaums
    4.Fantastic Mr. Fox
    5.The Darjeeling Limited
    6.Life Aquatic

  • Tom Knoblauch

    1. The Life Aquatic (my all time favorite film)
    2. Rushmore
    3. The Royal Tenenbaums
    4. The Darjeeling Limited/Hotel Chevalier
    5. Bottle Rocket
    6. Fantastic Mr. Fox

    My all time favorite filmmaker, however, I was not blown away by Fantastic Mr. Fox. I adore all of his other films.

  • Rolocop

    The only one of his I missed was THE LIFE AQUATIC. Otherwise, I have given all of his films 4 stars, except for RUSHMORE. I agree with Brad. I just can't connect with it. And I just saw it for the first time a couple of years ago. I do love ROYAL TENENBAUMS! That may be my favorite.

  • Rolocop

    5. Rushmore
    4. Bottle Rocket
    3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    2. Darjeeling Limited
    1. Royal Tenenbaums

    (need to see LIFE AQUATIC)

  • brace

    Haven't seen Fantastic Mr Fox and Bottle Rocket yet, but I like the other movies:
    1. The Royal Tenenbaums
    2. Rushmore
    3. Darjeeling Limited
    4. Life Aquatic (far behind)

  • Sean

    Anderson's my favorite director (yet, somehow, I haven't seen Bottle Rocket yet). Darjeeling is my favorite mostly because of the lead actors. Brody, Wilson, and Schwartzman have great chemistry and I love the landscape and minor characters they constantly interact with. To list them:

    1. Darjeeling Limited
    2. Life Aquatic
    3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    4. Royal Tenenbaums
    5. Rushmore

  • MrStark

    The "Did you just call me Coltrane?" scene is eternally glorious.

  • Nate Mizelle

    I'm blown away by how low people have The Royal Tenenbaums on their lists. It's probably one of my top 25 favorite films.

    My rankings would go:

    1. The Royal Tenenbaums
    2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    3. Life Aquatic
    4. Rushmore
    5. Bottle Rocket
    6. Darjeeling Limited

    I think with a second thorough viewing, you'll thoroughly appreciate it. I have a feeling that Moonrise will be very similar to Tenenbaums. Hopefully.

  • tombeet

    From the Wes Anderson's films, I guess The Darjeeling Limited is my least favorite. I just didn't see the deep of it compare to his others. But it is still pretty damn good. Enjoyed Life Aquatic, particularly Bill Murray's performance.

    1) The Royal Tenenbaums
    2) Rushmore (the top 2 are interchangeable)
    3) Fantastic Mr Fox (his most mainstream film for me)
    4) The Life Aquatic
    5) Bottle Rocket
    6) The Darjeeling Limited

    Also watched the short Hotel Chevalier, but not Bottle Rocket.

    I think he's kind of love-it-or-hate-it director. Hopefully Moonrise Kingdom will get him more mainstream taste. I think that's what he needs

  • Travis C.

    1) Fantastic Mr. Fox
    2) Bottle Rocket
    3) Rushmore
    4) The Royal Tenenbaums
    5) The Darjeeling Limited
    6) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

    I've really enjoyed all of the films, but I have to admit as he's a fairly unique voice in the current film landscape it took me a while to get into Anderson's work, but now that I'm there I can't wait to see his future work, return to the past films.