“Family isn’t a word – it’s a sentence.”
All in all, The Royal Tenenbaums is clearly a movie about a dysfunctional family, slowly falling apart and attempting to fix what has been broken. The Tenenbaum family itself is both the problem and solution for every character in the film (Phipps). Royal allows himself to become a terrible father figure in his children’s life, causing them trauma and allowing his absence to affect them negatively. The emotional tension in the film is high at times, clearly showing the negative relationships between a father and his neglected children.
Throughout the film, Royal, at first selfishly, tries to mend what he has broken and at the end, he finally starts to change his children’s feelings about his behaviors. One of the last scenes in the film shows the Tenenbaum’s childhood friend, Eli Cash, driving, under the influence of many substances, and crashing his car into the Tenenbaum home. This accident interrupts Henry Sherman and Etheline Tenenbaum’s wedding, and ends up killing the dog of Uzi and Ari. The car almost hits Chas’ sons, but luckily they were saved. Chas is so relieved, as the over-protective father that he is, but is still visibly upset. The scene shows Royal finally consoling his son and grandchildren. Chas cries and tells his father “I’ve had a rough year, Dad” to which Royal replays “I know, Chassie”. This ending is so important for the film because it finally brings together the two characters that were so visibly estranged and distant from each other’s lives.
All of the Tenenbaums are finally able to get their lives into better shape, thanks to the slowly healing relationship between an absent father and his mistreated children.