The Royal Tenenbaums : I Didn't Laugh Once.

I Didn't Laugh Once.

And I'm not saying it's a bad film. But, it's billed as a comedy and according to most people here it's one of the best films ever. So I was just wondering, at what points was it funny.

And please don't chastise me for not getting it.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

It's a black comedy. The humor is not the laugh out loud type.

He's taking the knife out of the Cheese!
Do you think he wants some cheese?


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Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

I hear that!

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Disagreed on the laugh out loud bit. I laughed out loud tons of times when I watched this film the first time, and every time thereafter.

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If you mean "black" as in "it's so dark, no one can see the humor," then I have to agree with you.

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"How much more black could it be? None... none more black"

Yeah, I don't like Wes Anderson's comedy either. I chuckled a few times at this but nothing over and above that as has also been the case with Moonrise Kingdom and Rushmore.

But his visual style. Damn. Now there's something.

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If you can't pick out the hilarious moments (of which there were many), this film is not for you. And that's not me chastising you. This discussion would be waste of your time. You are better off to just move on.

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"If you can't pick out the hilarious moments (of which there were many), this film is not for you. And that's not me chastising you. This discussion would be waste of your time. You are better off to just move on."

Wow, I completely disagree with your statement. In fact, I know a lot of people who didn't get this movie the first time, but after repeated viewings started to love it. In my case, I love the movie Rushmore (one of my top ten movies ever), so I went into this movie with certain relevant expectations. I didn't love it as much as I do Rushmore, but it was enjoyable, and I am definitely going to watch it again. The fact is that, like the TC, I didn't really laugh out loud (maybe a few times), but rather smiled several times. However, it has a certain charm similar to Rushmore that seems like it could grow on me.

---
Dyin' aint much of a livin', boy.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

I can't believe what you said. I mean, i started to like the movie more once i viewed it the second time. Don't know why, though.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

I was going to say that the humor is better appreciated the more you watch it. Unless someone just doesn't get it.

"Smokey, this is not 'Nam, this is bowling. There are rules. "
-Walter Sobchak

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Ryeriver hit the nail on the head.

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The entire beginning sequence of the film is funny. The way different things are labeled especially. I also laughed when Royal says "This is my adopted daughter, Margot Tenenbaum."

It isn't obvious humor, but it is definitely there.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

I didn't laugh once either. This movie is more art than entertainment. One reason i've never liked wes anderson films is that his de facto comedic mechanism is having his characters exchange dialogue at 97% the pace of normal people. this imperceptible delay somehow amounts to dark humour. i respectfully disagree.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Even funnier is when they're doing Margot's play at the end, and
the father character says "This is my adopted daughter, Elaine Levinson", and Royal laughs out loud. (He's the only one there laughing.)

Very wry humor.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

It isn't a "joke" kind of movie, where a setup leads to a punchline. The humour is in the way people behave and speak ("What do you say we grab a coupla burgers and hit the cemetery?" is an unusually irreverent attitude, which can be interpreted as humorous, especially juxtaposed to the more serious attitudes of some of the other characters). This kind of humour doesn't tend to lead to a lot of belly laughs, but on repeat viewings when some of the details become more evident it can be very funny.

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"We all know General Custer died at the battle of Little Big Horn. What this book pre-supposes is... maybe he didn't?"

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

Two of the many hilarious examples of this film.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

"You wanna talk some jive? I'll talk some jive like you ain't never heard!"

"But there are no sprinklers here."

"I KNOW YOU, *beep* totally cribbed from "Witness" which featured Danny Glover.

"Hand to hand combat does not interest me."

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

When Richie is playing his tennis match and has taken his shoes off and does an underarm serve before just sitting down on the court...I don't know, it either makes me laugh or get a lump in my throat...I think Richie on a whole is a great character, brilliantly emotive and very darkly humoured.

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Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

How about this exchange?

Raleigh: "You made a cuckold of me."
Margot: "I know."
Raleigh: "Many times over."
Margot: "So sorry."


Laugh out loud hilarious.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

now WHY would that interchange be considered funny by anyone with a brain? please explain this to me. I'd be willing to wager that if I showed that snippet to anyone on this planet, not a single sane person would find it "laugh out loud hillarious".

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Subtle comedy escapes some, don't beat yourself up about it.

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HAH! Now THAT'S laugh out loud funny.

your ignorance I mean.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

As others have said, the film is a dark comedy. Within it there are serious topics, death, suicide, cheating, drug addiction etc.. Out of these topics, jokes are made. As others have also pointed out, the jokes don’t stick out at you, they’re subtle. Personally when I first saw this movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I liked it, but it didn’t all make sense to me. So I saw it again, and loved it even more. The film is so dense and layered, that I couldn’t pick everything up the first time. I think you need to see it one time, just to absorb it all and understand the context behind everything, and on repeat viewings it may be more funny to you. Or it just might not be your type of humor which is ok too.

The first example that came to my head, of having to know the context of the film and its characters is towards the beginning. Eli has just read his book out loud to an audience, and is showered with applause. He’s constantly being praised by the media and fans for his work. He’s on the phone and this is the dialog from the film:

Eli: Let me ask you something. Why would a review make the point of saying
someone's "not" a genius? You think I'm especially "not" a genius? You didn't even have to think about it, did you?

Margot: Well, I just don't use that word lightly.

Once you’ve seen the film, and you understand that his whole life Eli has worshipped the Tenenbaums and has wanted to be part of that family, you can understand how being called “not genius” by Margot Tenenbaum would be a stinging blow to his ego. The Tenenbaum children were considered to be Genius' at a young age. Their mother put out the book Family of Genius', etc.. So even with all the fan and press recognition Eli is receiving, it means nothing to him. He just wants to be admired and recognized by the Tenenbaums, and Margot bursts his bubble in this scene. So to some, the scene may be unfunny or cruel, to others it’s hilarious. I’m in the group that thinks it’s hilarious, because this is my type of humor.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Very well illustrating the comedy in the film, there are many types of both dark humor and black comedy and most definitely subtle to back all up, though this just portrays one of the many. For me I can't help but laugh both before and after knowing Eli's desire to be a genius when he says. "Let me ask you something. Why would a review make the point of saying someone's not a genius." It's just funny~ To me at least~

To add, like many of the movies with similar styles both in overall piece and area of comedy the films comedic air rests not in the "Big Laugh" 'Jim Brooks' moments but in the eccentric characters rolled with witty and unusual dialogue. The dialogue continually surprises you 'what do you say we grab a couple of burgers and hit the cemetery' and allows for that smile to roll across the face. Add well developed characters of unique style and disposition interacting with each other properly, (foils) their demeanors clashing at the right time with the right lines with the right references ('I want you to meet my adopted daughter, Leslie') and you have very funny stuff. If not for the scenes that you cite with huge laughs, then you have at the least a piece that conveys an overall tone of light comedy, in it's very essence. It's continual and lasting, by underlying everything in the film because of what was built on top of it, the characters, the dialogue and how it interacts... big lebowski.

Even someone as Dudley because he had a well developed character is quite funny. Though it should be noted that IT IS funny because they utilize it properly. 'Dudley where is he' Dudley looks to the side almost suggesting roaming around in single stance for exactly who she's looking for. "Who?" Only Dudley with such genuity could answer in such a way. If that was Seth Rogen at the hospital for his buddy 'the other cop' in superbad, then cutting scene after saying who it just wouldn't be as funny, maybe not at all. (I guess I'm trying to illustrate there are many more intricate facets to what makes a film funny both in the specifical and the tonal as to just the fact that lines are being said, and even then lines being said by a specific character to another, and even then one that is well developed, and even then with past proper references, and even then etc etc.. I pick Dudley, because he is one of the most minor characters and yet he still delivers comedy if your willing to pay attention and look for it. And if you can get this from Dudley imagine what you can find from the other characters.

Plus don't leave out delivery, Hackman among others but epsecially Hackman was a virtuoso in this movie if their ever was one for natural subtle delivery in such a way. 'And how are you doing sir' "Oh not to well, I'm dying"-- Cut Scene. It's just funny.


Some people do not just appreciate, not understand or quite possibly don't fancy this type of comedy. I grew up for years through both grade school and highschool meeting not one person who liked this type of comedy. It just isn't for some people for whatever reason it may be.

Finally another thing I'll mention much of what this type of comedy stems from is the way you put developed characters (which you will be able to find comedy in even through extrapolative ways as opposed to undeveloped characters with little to no background that you can't pull from, meaning instead of being thrown in your face, the comedy-- family guy. You are given the tools and you can see it if your willing and able) into situations that they shouldn't be in or more specifically can't handle or are not comfortable with. The cherry is that you foil those characters properly. The holy grail of this is the aforementioned Big Lebowski. Completely polarized characters who are constantly being put into the most outrageous yes, but awkward, still uncomfortable situations. The comedy evolves by itself especially after repeated watchings. The better and stronger the dialogue sure, but when done well it's almost impossible for characters that are foils in awkward situations to not be funny.


This time I'm gonna catch myself, so I'm done, goodbye.

Normality is incredibly weird.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

I love this post.

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So this is what a definitively perfect post looks like. Huh.

"I don't know. Maybe it was Utah."

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

your ignorance makes you a dick

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

I think the movie is pretty funny.

Slave: Pharao Bender it hurts when i breath!
Bender: Then what do you think you should stop doing?

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

The snippet by itself is not funny. Of course no one would laugh. In the context of the film, however, some people obviously do find it funny.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Obviously "GetAJobAl" was trying to be special and different. Trying to elevate himself from the common rabble by citing that example as hillarious so that we the commoners could all go "huh???!" and confuse all this nonsense for some kind of high brow humor our petty little minds could never understand. Now if he could only incite that feeling in someone once in his lifetime, it would almost make all the suffering and humiliation in high school worth it.

There is no humor. There never was. And I can promise you that not once did "GetAJobAl", or any of the other self proclaimed Royal Tenenbaums fan, laugh at that particular moment of the film.

Or any other moment for that matter.

In fact, this entire thread is an exercise in futility.

And as much as I appreciate the American Psycho reference in his nickname, "GetAJobAl" is a complete moron.

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Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

ho ho ho.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

I laughed at many of the snippets of dialogue, out loud--and I've never seen the movie.

I laughed out loud at the once about adultery you were specifically questioning, but only after someone left a comment prompting me to envision the nonverbal communication better.

People have different tastes. I'd probably be utterly bored by some things you find fascinating. Thank you everyone for arguing against this... person who seems kind of bored to be here posting belligerently just to say his tastes are the only ones possible. I didn't think before that I'd like the movie, but now I bet I would. (I only saw the scene with the song "Needle in the Hay" [it's in a bathroom and involves shaving cream--trying to avoid spoilers here] and that doesn't represent the entirety of the movie well.)

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Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Here is what is going on mourasantos, what you may not "get." (I am not trying to be in any way insulting with the message, merely informing you of the nuances of the comedy that you are watching).

In "The Royal Tenenbaums," and most of Wes Andersons films for that matter, we are introduced to a variety of very absurd characters (they appear as caricatures) that do very absurdly normal and human things. We are faced with deeply nuanced characters and the many motives for the things that they do (most of which, most of us are not willing to admit). Frequently, there is a class struggle (as is the case with Eli Cash in this film). Likewise, we are faced with a candor that most people are not capable of.

I find it somewhat ironic that you claim that Wes Anderson's films are "artsy" and "anyone with a brain will not find them amusing." The problem is that you are taking these characters lives far too seriously. Wes Anderson, in fact, is very self-parodying in his "dandy" elements and use of "artistic" context--that is, in his movies he makes fun of artists that take much of their absurd work far too seriously AND frequently makes fun of himself and how his audience frequently doesn't "get" what he is doing (see the exchange at the beginning of "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou").

Many people, when watching the movies, make the mistake of thinking they are watching some "art film" (which many of his movies use elements of). However, they do not realize that they are watching a parody of human life--that many of the troubles faced by the characters are minute (yet tragic) and that their ways of dealing with their emotional issues are both hilariously petty and understandable. If you watch the film as a parody of the characters in front of you, you will both begin to understand their depth and complexity and their utter absurdity. His characters are not meant to be taken at "face value" but rather, within context.

That is why when Royal frequently introduces his daughter Margot as his "adopted daughter, Margot," it is both funny and tragic--funny in that his deficiencies as a person are so clear and that he is so candid, but tragic in that it is at the expense of his daughter Margot. Likewise, as has been said of Eli Cash earlier, Eli "always wanted to be a Tenenbaum." The fact that he sends Mrs. Tenenbaum his grades and newspaper clippings is both funny and tragic--funny in that it is such a ridiculous and petty thing to do, but tragic in that he so desperately needs to be accepted by the Tenenbaum family. Even funnier is the absurdity of the book "Old Custer" and the lines "Wildcat was written in a kind of...obsolete vernacular"--both of which are totally ridiculous subject matter and claims that an artist or author would make while seeking validation and the label of genius (and the second claim he makes while on drugs!). Again, this last example with Eli is another point of both parody and self-parody for Wes Anderson--it is making fun of "artsy" people, including himself, and also recognizing the tragic need for validation that these "artsy" people face.

I find that the characters themselves are far more accurate depictions of people (when you begin to look past their initial superficial qualities) than most art films--and frequently most films in general. Most people, however, take themselves so seriously and invest so much in their own validation that to accept some of the conclusions--to accept that what they do is petty or irrelevent or absurd--would be absolutely tragic. This is the crazy thing that happens with the characters in Wes Anderson's films--frequently they take themselves far too seriously and we the viewers are the only ones in on the joke. However, even crazier is how many of us are faced with the same problems--how we do the very same thing and lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that what we do is very important and serious--we do crazy and absurd things for validation and it is just as funny and tragic. Most people can not handle being the blunt of a joke--can not see their own lives as equally comic--and focus mostly on the tragedy of it. Some of those who can only see the tragedy will be very angry and depressed when viewing Wes Anderson films--or may get angry at the fact that they don't understand them--when really all it takes is an open mind to accept that many of the things we take very seriously, when you step back, are very amusing.

I did find this, like most of Wes Anderson's films, very funny. I think it takes a certain amount of self-awareness and awareness of the world to do so (things which do, in fact, require a brain). I do understand why you would not find it funny though. For many people, tragic humor is not funny. Likewise, many people especially close to some of the issues--such as drug abuse and suicide--are not likely to find it funny. It should be noted though that Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson are familiar with drug abuse and suicide (attempts) in their own personal lives and that just because such subjects are rooted in comedy--and sometimes the blunt of jokes--that they think drug abuse and suicide are necessarily "funny". What is humorous is the context--and though it is humorous it is also quite tragic. Sometimes, it is easier to point out the humor than rely simply on the tragedy. Sometimes, the humor is the only part that makes the tragedy ok.

Epitaph--Royal Tenenbaum died while saving his family from a sinking battleship.

Ridiculous statement aimed at Royals vanity and his need to validate his life. However, the film is about a family that was ripped apart--and the father who came back and (through ridiculous and self-serving measures) managed to fix the family again.

I hope that this helps with your understanding of the movie and that maybe you won't dislike it (and the people who find it funny) so much.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Very well said, sdonegan!

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.


sdonegan just hit the nail on the head

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Excellent comment, sdonegan!

Wes Anderson films are not always immediately accessible. The characters are often self-absorbed, self-pitying asses. But there is a learning curve and insufferable people gradually become endearing in spite of themselves.

I don't want to try to match sdonegan's comment. But I thought I'd add in that many of his films have grown on me over time. Hated Rushmore the first time I saw it and couldn't sit through the entire thing. But it's grown on me.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

"And I can promise you that not once did "GetAJobAl", or any of the other self proclaimed Royal Tenenbaums fan, laugh at that particular moment of the film."

That's a pretty sweeping statement.

Lots of snippets from TRT Tenenbaums make me laugh - not always out loud, and frequently a laugh is juxtaposed with something that leaves me with a lump in my throat: best example of that for me, something that gets me every time, is Eli talking about how he wished Royal had tried to look out for him as a kid...

Eli: I wish you'd've done this for me when I was a kid.
Richie: But you didn't have a drug problem then.
Eli: Yeah, but it still would've meant a lot to me.

Tragic and funny at the same time.

Straight after this, Eli says "I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum" with such a sorrowful inflection that it makes my eyes well up, then just as the audience is feeling sorry for him, he scarpers, which, well I don't know about anyone else but it makes me laugh.

Moments such as the one mentioned are quite often capable of making people laugh, often for the wrong reasons - have you never been in a situation where you laughed at a totally inappropriate moment. A lot of TRT laughs are exactly like that.

Just because a film didn't make you laugh, doesn't mean it won't make anyone else laugh. It doesn't mean they have no sense of humour, or indeed that you have no sense of humour - it just means that you have a different sense of humour. Live with it.

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Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Getajobal is pulling our collective legs, I'm sure. Even in the context of the movie, these were not funny lines.

WTF IMDB--if I'm hitting reply to someone why can't my comment be inserted under his comment? Isn't that the way it used to be? Now it is hard for anyone to make sense of this, since there are so many pages of comments to the original post.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Or when he says "Well I want to die", but then picks up his food as if to resume eating, and then thinks better of it and puts it down again. I don't know why, but that part always makes me laugh.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.


Or when he says "Well I want to die", but then picks up his food as if to resume eating, and then thinks better of it and puts it down again. I don't know why, but that part always makes me laugh.


I think this is one of the best visual gags in any film ever, just because it speaks volumes abour our own self-importance and patheticness. At the risk of over-explaining the joke and ruining it, it's the way Raleigh appears to decide that eating a Viennese Swirl after declaring 'I want to die' is somehow inappropriate. It also demonstrates how pompous his statement is - how serious cn you be when you're troughing cakes in the garden? There's so much absurdity, self-dramatisation, tragedy and humanity crystallised in that one moment, I don't know how anyone can see it and not laugh. To me, in that one tiny moment the film completely skewers the human condition and that's what great comedy is all about for me. Just saying "God, aren't we pathetic" and inviting you in on the joke. Great stuff.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

That whole exchange was great, "and you almost killed yer poor brother, can I have a smoke" in front of her mom. Her mom's laidback response was funny too, she just finds out her daughter has been a smoker for 22 years and... well you can't explain a joke and expect somebody to laugh, but it was funny.

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I almost puked laughing when Pagoda stabs Royal Tenenbaum with this, like, half inch blade. He doesn't come close to dying, he just grunts and sits down and Pagoda proceeds to help him after he just stabbed him. Instant forgiveness and release. It's like he wanted some kind of revenge, and punching him wouldn't have been enough, so he wanted to stab the poor guy and barely gets through the coat and all the clothes he's wearing. Believe me, I understand what you mean. It may be that you're 1: paying too close attention or 2: not paying enough attention. I watched The Life Aquatic years ago and fell asleep halfway through but today I am rolling on the ground laughing at that movie.

What if I was to kick the ever-loving *beep* outta ya?

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

Pagoda stabbing Royal with the knife is funny (for reasons you havn't stated) because Royal re-tells a story about when he was stabbed to his grandchildren, and speaks of how Pagoda saved his life by carrying him to the hospital. Then after telling this story Ari (or Uzi) ask Royal "who stabbed you?" Royal answers.. "He did", pointing to Pagoda. but they look and recognition on his face (he looks a touch bitter and deflated) seemed to me like he had almost forgot that it was Pagoda who stabbed him and prefers the story where Pagoda just saves his life.

I think it reflects Royal's disposition to life really well. Preferring to live in his version of reality to make himself feel better. Quite a brilliant scene imo.

The funny thing is that I never really picked up on this until perhaps my 4th or 5th viewing. I mean I always thought it was kinda amusing that Pagoda stabbed him and they still rocked around together, that's the obvious humour in the scene, the joke that everyone will think is pretty lackluster (if they are people who don't enjoy/get this film). But the essence of the joke is in the latent text, and shows us the real point of the scene. So the first 4-5 times I watched this scene I had a mild chuckle to myself, like I suspect most people did. But now when I watch it I laugh out loud and long.

But I got a little off topic there, so yea, the reason Pagoda stabbing him is funny is because it's a direct replay of this scene I just discussed. Pagoda stabs him then helps him attend to the wound he has seconds earlier inflicted upon him... again.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

I laughed quite a few times. it was pretty funny, mostly gene hackman though.

Re: I Didn't Laugh Once.

I just watched this for the umteenth time (I absolutely love this film) and laughed once.
I laughed at the way Ben Stiller said "Them's the rules" as he turned the lights off on his dying father.

It may have been the way he delivered it or something, but it just stuck me a certain way this time and I gave out a loud "HA!" Most of the time I was just smirking at how undermining and devoid everyone is.
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