The Addams Family (1991)

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Con artists plan to fleece an eccentric family using an accomplice who claims to be their long-lost uncle. (IMDb)
The plot isn’t terribly compelling but the upside-down dynamics of the titular family more than make up for it. They’re kooky, crafty, and hilariously morbid (young Wednesday of course is a highlight: “Are they made from real Girl Scouts?”)–and a far cry from the harried suburban Mom & Dad of 90s VHS tapes are parents Gomez and Morticia who ooze romantic passion (“How long has it been since we’ve waltzed?” “Oh Gomez.. hours”). Endlessly quotable and wholly memorable (see the bloody school play).
8/10 (Great)

 

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

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An estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when their father announces he is terminally ill. (IMDb)
Enjoyably quirky narrated character set-ups lead into a melancholic family reunion drama artistically crafted (memorable costumes and an excellent soundtrack stand out) but saturated with so much deadpan dialogue that it gets a little tiresome at points. Not all of the characters connect (Raleigh is inconsequential; Eli feels out of place) but Royal is a strong lead in his flawed quest for redemption, and Chas (see his guard let down; “I’ve had a tough year”) and Richie eventually hit home too.
7/10 (Good)

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

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A year after their father’s funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with each other. (IMDb)
The estranged brother dynamic is well-written in the dryly humourous first act as keener Francis initiates their adventure, secrets are leaked, and the backstory is patiently exposited. The rest of the film loses some momentum (despite great music, slow-mo, and tracking shots) thanks to too many vaguely significant but unsubstantiated scenes (see the unearned melodrama of Jack’s farewell to Rita), though the dramatic tragedy of the second act (“He’s all bloody!”) certainly isn’t one of them.
7/10 (Good)

 

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

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With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son. (IMDb)
Visually, a delight (clashing underwater animation aside), with its meticulously crafted sets, distinct costumes, and cheeky screenplay (lots of incidental eating) captured by beautifully-framed shots. This marvelous aesthetic is complimented nicely by a mellow soundtrack (Jorge is great) and excellent deadpan humour. The dry script delivery doesn’t work as well with the drama–it mostly fails to engage, despite great turns from Murray and Blanchett–but a moving climax helps to entrench it a bit.
7.5/10 (Really Good)