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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Royal Tenenbaums, The: Two Disc Collector's Edition (2001)

Royal Tenenbaums, The: Two Disc Collector's Edition (2001)

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Released 28-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Outtakes-Birthday Outtake
Audio-Only Track-Studio 360/Public Radio International segment
Gallery-Calderon art
Gallery-Richie Tenenbaum's portraits
Featurette-Spinning Plates
Easter Egg-Mouse
Featurette-The Peter Bradley Show
Theatrical Trailer-2
Featurette-With The Filmmaker
Deleted Scenes
Easter Egg-Welcome to Criterion
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 105:13
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:20)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Wes Anderson

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Gene Hackman
Anjelica Huston
Ben Stiller
Gwyneth Paltrow
Luke Wilson
Owen Wilson
Bill Murray
Danny Glover
Kumar Pallana
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $44.95 Music Mark Mothersbaugh

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Almost a year ago I reviewed the rental release of this film. You might want to read that review, because it will give you a good idea of where we are coming from. Back then I said the following about the movie:

    This is a strange movie. It appears, superficially, to be a fairly simple story of a dysfunctional family, told very straight. It's not. It's actually rather funny, in a wry and, at times, vicious way. Not all of the humour comes off, but there's enough that it is well worth watching, and you are likely to need to watch it again if you want to catch all of the subtleties.

    It helps that this film has been cast with an array of rather good actors (well, I don't have a high opinion of Ben Stiller, but this role doesn't stretch his limited abilities). Gene Hackman clearly relishes the role of Royal Tenenbaum, the father of the family, once a rich and powerful lawyer, now destitute. Anjelica Huston looks older, a little sadder, but still impressive as Etheline Tenenbaum (I kept thinking that should be spelled "ethylene"), the mother of the family, who raised the children after throwing their father out of the house. The children, Chas (Ben Stiller), Richie (Luke Wilson), and Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow — an interesting performance) are all former geniuses who have lost their way. There are good supporting performances from Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Kumar Pallana (playing an Indian servant called Pagoda!?).

    The start and end of the story are narrated for us by Alec Baldwin. He relates the early successes of each child in a dry, matter-of-fact voice — you have to listen closely to these sequences, as they are quite funny. Then we discover that we've jumped forward 22 years, and we're introduced to their less-successful older selves.

    I don't want to say any more about the plot — better you let it unfold in front of you. Just allow me to warn you that this is not a riotous slapstick comedy; it is more subtle than that. Don't expect to be rolling on the floor laughing.

    Looking at the movie now, I have to admit that my feelings have changed a bit. I actually like the film more now — I think this is a film you have to see several times.

    This two disc collector's edition adds a lot of extras to the package, but the movie disc is essentially unchanged, except for the menus.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    As far as I can tell, this is the same transfer as the rental disc (same layer change, same film artefacts), but that's not a bad thing — the rental disc had quite a good transfer. The files on disc are different, but that just suggests that the same transfer was put onto disc a second time when they changed the menus.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. That's the original aspect ratio.

    The picture is quite sharp and clear. Shadow detail is excellent. There's no significant grain and no low level noise.

    Colour is quite good, although there are some noticeable differences in colour between inside and outside shots — while this can be attributed to different qualities of the light, other films manage to avoid these discrepancies. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There's one film artefact that I noticed, but it's transparent and hard to see.

    There is a little bit of aliasing (most noticeably on Richie's headband in any shot other than a close-up), no significant moiré, and no MPEG artefacts.

    There are subtitles in eight languages, including English in the form of normal subtitles and Hearing Impaired subtitles. I watched the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles. They are presented in an attractive font, are easy to read, and are rather accurate, but they frequently shimmer — this shimmer was by far the worst artefact on the entire transfer.

    The disc is single sided, and RSDL-formatted; the layer change is at 52:20, at a natural pause in a scene that gets drawn out a little by the layer change. It is barely noticeable on a good player.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The soundtrack is provided in English, French, and Italian. All three are provided in Dolby Digital 5.1. I only listened to the English. I still can't figure out why the English soundtrack is 5.1 — the surrounds and subwoofer are not used. There's not even that much in the way of stereo separation — the centre channel is the only really important channel on this soundtrack.

    The dialogue is quite clear and comprehensible. There are no obvious audio sync glitches.

    The score is by Mark Mothersbaugh (who played three instruments, too); it is quirky, but not intrusive. There are a lot of songs in the soundtrack, too — it opens with Hey Jude, and uses Dylan, Rolling Stones and The Clash, as well as a number of artists I've not heard of. The songs have been carefully chosen, and they fit the events on-screen well.

    Neither surrounds nor subwoofer gets anything noticeable to do with this soundtrack. My subwoofer switched itself off from boredom.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras on the first disc, which is a shame: it means we miss out on the director's commentary.


    The menus on the first disc have been replaced to match the menus on the second disc. I liked the menus on the rental disc a little more. These new menus follow the style of the ones on the (Region 1) Criterion disc, except for being emblazoned with the Criterion name. Humorously, there's an Easter egg on the menu of the second disc that isn't an Easter egg on the R1 — it is Ben Stiller welcoming us to the Criterion disc (rather inappropriate for a non-Criterion disc, wouldn't you say?).


    There's a brief outtake from Margot's 11th birthday party where Anjelica Huston managed to set her hair on fire.

Photo Gallery

    This is a gallery of around 200 photos taken by set photographer James Hamilton. I hope your remote is heavy duty because there's no auto-advance — you have to press the right arrow for every one!

Paintings by Miguel Calderon

    This little sub-menu includes a 4:33 radio interview and a series of stills showing paintings that are Miguel Calderon. Interestingly, he arranged the creation of the paintings, but did not paint them himself.

Portraits of Margot

    These are some of the work done by Eric Chase Anderson for this film. There are 11 portraits in this collection.


    These is not really storyboards. They are 31 stills showing close-ups of Wes Anderson's annotated script, complete with illustrations.


    A collection of over 80 stills showing details of the murals in Richie's room.


    This shows 8 book jackets designed for the film.

Snippet (0:31)

    A brief snippet of film showing Kumar Pallana demonstrating his plate spinning skills.

Featurette: The Peter Bradley Show (14:21)

    A rather silly piece made up for promotional purposes. This is a segment of the fictional Peter Bradley Show where he is interviewing a number of actors from the new film The Royal Tenenbaums, but the joke is that he has only managed to attract people with small (to non-existent) parts — none of the big stars. It's a thin joke, and doesn't stretch anywhere near as long as this piece.

Trailers (4:22)

    Two rather similar trailers shown one after the other.

Featurette: With the Filmmaker (27:02)

    I get the impression that With the Filmmaker is a real TV series. This is the episode that concentrates on Wes Anderson during the making of The Royal Tenenbaums. It's mostly quite interesting, and several cuts above the usual EPK stuff. Recommended.

Cut Scenes (1:47)

    Two brief scenes that were cut from the movie, shown one after the other.

Interviews (26:47)

    Eight interviews, individually selectable, or you can choose Play All to play them in the sequence below:

Easter Egg (0:14)

    Ben Stiller welcoming us to the Criterion Collection DVD. Odd thing to leave on a non-Criterion disc... To access the Easter egg, (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) bring up the main menu on Disc Two, have the cursor on the Scrapbook item, and press Up, then Enter.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version of this film comes from the Criterion Collection. It is a two disc Special Edition (it's in one of those old-fashioned fat two-disc cases, with a cardboard slip cover). It's quite clear that this R4 Collector's Edition drew heavily on the Criterion version: the second disc of this version is almost identical to the second disc of the Criterion disc (only the Criterion label is really different). But there remain the differences between the first discs (basically sound — little things like dts and director's commentary)...

    The R4 is still missing:

    The R1 is missing:

    Looks like we still have to award the gold-plated whatzit to the Criterion Collection package, but the differences are considerably fewer this time.


    An unusual, wry, comedy / drama presented rather well on two DVDs.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good for the film, but one wonders about the choice of 5.1 sound. We miss out on dts sound, but this soundtrack doesn't stretch Dolby Digital 5.1, so one could question the need for dts.

    There is now a whole disc full of extras included with the movie. It is still missing the director's commentary, though, which is a real shame.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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