DISCLAIMER: This essay is actually not about Wes Anderson movies (thank GOD!) but popular culture is always the easiest entry point to expressing actual human feelings, some of which I may dredge up below.
When I first saw The Royal Tenenbaums I was 15 and had no idea what to make of this thing I was watching. It was a comedy, maybe? Earlier that year my friends and I had seen comedies like Zoolander and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, which we knew were comedies because they made us laugh. Tenenbaums on the other hand squeezed laughter — uncomfortable laughter — between scenes of stylized and fairly graphic attempted suicide and old men contemplating the pain they’ve wrought on their families. Like I said…what in the shit was this? People create art that can scratch multiple emotional itches? One minute I’m belly-laughing at the line “You heard me, Coltrane” and the next I’m desperately holding back tears from my best friend, because Ben Stiller’s “I had a rough year, Dad” has just about flattened me. I think I understood then, instinctively, that this uncomfortable balance between funny and sad is what really makes me tick. BUT THESE SEESAW FEELINGS, MAN, THEY’RE TOO GODDAMN MUCH.