THE Royal Tenenbaums follows the recent tradition of ensemble acting performances by top stars working - presumably - for small wages.
In this case writer/director Wes Anderson has gathered together Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Bill Murray to name but a few.
The plot is simple enough - a father is dying and his family gather round to remember their lives.
The gimmick is that all of the offspring have had problems in their lives: Paltrow is a playwright who can't write any more, Luke Wilson a tennis champ who can't play and Stiller a financial whizz-kid who can't whizz.
The man they blame is the dying dad Hackman who has separated from his wife (Huston) and wants to be a dad again.
Naturally most involved are eccentrics as are the attending characters including Murray as Paltrow's boring husband and Owen Wilson as a novelist somewhat affected by his drugtaking habit.
Hackman as the patriot wishing to reclaim his role as Dad has already won an award for his work and most of the others do pretty well.
That said, while it has a touch of the realities about it, the Royal Tenenbaums has the uncomfortable feel about actors acting, a director directing and a writer writing (Anderson wrote the script with Owen Wilson).
It has its jolly moments and the performances are fine.
But one wonders at the end whether it is actually saying anything new.