The actors here do a fine job as well, with Anderson and Owen Wilson's screenplay. Gene Hackman is the stand-out and it's a crying shame that Sean Penn was nominated for his crap work in I AM SAM and this performance went unnoticed. Stiller and Wilson seem the most comfortable with the material which is no surprise considering that Wilson wrote it and Stiller is one of his good friends. Gwyneth Paltrow also looks great but doesn't have much else to do besides look depressed and smoke her cigarettes. I also enjoyed the smaller roles like Pagoda and Bill Murray's geeky test subject.
This movie is funny but with an extremely dry sense of humor. Not "Simpsons" funny but RUSHMORE funny. I know many people who didn't like this film thinking it either wasn't funny or not as funny as RUSHMORE. I know many people who say it couldn't live up to RUSHMORE. Personally, I didn't care much for RUSHMORE and liked TENENBAUMS better. Anderson and his films seem to have that love/hate effect on people. They strike different people different ways for different reasons. It's also very difficult to describe how or why you liked it. I find myself just saying simply that I really liked it. Why? I just did. While it wasn't the greatest film of the year, I'd rather have a ROYAL TENENBAUMS to watch than a safe by-the-numbers movie...any day of the week.
On Disc 2, we have cast interviews with virtually every major TENENBAUMS player. Hackman, Angelica Huston, Paltrow, Stiller, Wilson, Glover, Bill Murray and Luke Wilson are all here talking about the flick. Each one runs about 3 minutes or so and I suggest using the option to run them all together instead of watching them separately. It'll save you a bunch of time.
Next up is a featurette/documentary titled "With the Filmmaker", which is more of a documentary on the making of the film than a fluff piece. Really interesting to watch in a hard-to-describe kind of way. If you're interested in the filmmaking process and stuff like "Project Greenlight" appeals to you, this piece (which runs close to a half-hour) will be to your liking. I have to say that I was disappointed with the amount of deleted scenes included on the discs though. There were only two here and neither of them offered up anything too thrilling.
Another quirky little feature which follows in the vein of the movie is the Peter Bradley Show interviews. The Peter Bradley Show is a fake talk show featured in TENENBAUMS that's similar to PBS's Charlie Rose show. On this show, Owen Wilson's character appears and has a mini-nervous breakdown before walking off. Here we get 5 interviews (by the fake Bradley) with bit players from the film. Not only is the concept strange, the interviews are even stranger. One of them doesn't even show up and we just see an empty chair. Reminded me of the BEING JOHN MALKOVICH feature that was just "Don't Click on Here" or whatever it was. Weird, yet oddly amusing.
The next feature is an art gallery that's composed of promotional stills, photos from a cast/crew party, the covers of all the books featured in the film, storyboards and most impressively the paintings done by Eric Anderson, Wes's brother. Traditionally I don't like sorting through this many stills on the DVD player but this was an exception. The art from the movie was so fascinating I couldn't help flip through the hundreds of stills here. One thing I didn't much care for was the work of painter Miguel Calderon, whose work is seen in Wilson's character's apartment. Creepy art and a boring interview.
One feature I really enjoyed were the "liner notes" for the DVD. Few DVDs these days have anything on the inside other than a simple slipsheet with chapter listings. This collection however features two booklets: one showcasing the intricate art of Eric Anderson (who mapped out all the locations in the Tenenbaum house) and another featuring an long essay about Wes Anderson and his films by a writer whose name escapes me. Liner notes are a great inclusion here and a feature that should eventually make it's way to all DVDs.
Finally we get some standard features like the film's trailers and some minor DVD-ROM extras, the former of which are really superb. One of the best trailers of 2001 in my opinion.