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The movie opens with titles happening on a book called "The Royal Tenenbaums". The movie has chapters on every scene. The movie is narrated by Alec Baldwin.

Royal (Gene Hackman) is a father of three. He goes through a divorce with Ethel (Anjelica Houston). They were never legally divorced, he just lived in a hotel.

The children, Chas, Margot, and Richie were raised for education, home schooled by Houston when they were kids.

Chas bred dalmations and mice, and eventually moved on to be a wall street trader. He was shot in the knuckles by Hackman when he was a kid.

Margot, the adopted child, lost her finger when she ran away from home to find her real family, some farmers.

Richie has become a pro tennis player.

Eli Cash was a neighbor and practically family.

Henry Sherman (Danny Glover) is the family accountant. And then there's Pagoda, the family servant.

We skip some 22 years later, and Hackman is seemingly hit with a terminal illness, stomach cancer. He tells Houston so, and asks to spend time with his family.

An older Chas (Ben Stiller) is concerned with safety and works his kids hard to be safe, with their dog, Buckeley. This is so because his wife died in a plane crash and the kids, the dog, and Chas were the only survivors. The sprinklers for his home are busted, so he moves in with Houston.

Richie (Luke Wilson) has spent most of his years on a ship. He thinks he's fallen in love with Margot.

Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow) was an aspiring playwright, but lately doesn't have anything produced. She smoked since Age 12, spends 6 hours in the bathroom watching TV, and married to a psychiatrist, Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray) who is doing a story on a disease with his human guinea pig Dudley.

Eli Cash (Owen Wilson) is an author who was on the cover of a magazine and carries himself as a model. He knows that Luke has fallen in love with Margot.

The Tenenbaum kids move into the mom's house. Despite everyone's wishes to keep Hackman out of the house, Luke convinces them to let Hackman stay.

Hackman announces that he has six weeks to get the family to love him. He moves out of the hotel due to not paying the rent.

For six days, he lives dangerously with Stiller's kids, Uzi and Ari. They live on the wild side. Stiller disagrees.

Meanwhile, Glover wants to marry Houston but they try to keep it a secret. Pagoda tells Hackman everything. he tries to talk Glover out of it by intimidating him. Glover does not believe Hackman is dying.

He is right, and they kick Hackman out of the house. Hackman moves in with Pagoda and gets a job as a elevator operator.

Owen sends Houston his grades from college and his magazine clippings. Murray tries to figure out what's going on and hires a detective to get all the dirt on Gwenyth. He is most disappointed with her smoking, which is truly the funny part. It's as if he doesn't care about her sleeping around.

Luke is disappointed with his failed tennis star image and shaves his head and beard but cuts his wrists after finding out about Gwenyth's past lovers. Dudley discovers his body and he is rushed to the hospital, where he survives. He checks himself out.

Luke confesses to Paltrow, and they keep their love secret.

A few days later, Luke meets with Hackman on an elevator to settle his problems. Luke confesses to Hackman as well, and Hackman accepts this. Hackman is then happy to help and confronts everyone on their problems. Luke confronts Owen on his drug problem. Hackman gives Houston the legal divorce papers and allows Houston and Glover to marry. Hackman tells Stiller to not be safe-conscious, and thinks he is overworking the children.

On the day of the wedding, everything is going well, when Owen drives his car straight through a fence and part of a wall. He kills Buckeley by accident, and Hackman saves the kids. Stiller chases Owen and they both jump over a fence into the neighbors backyard. They end up just laying there. Since Hackman saved Uri and Azi, Stiller decides he's all right. Hackman buys him a dalmation to replace Buckeley.

Then, there were the different things that happened to people:

Glover and Houston marry and live happily.

Owen is checked into a rehabilitation center with native americans.

Luke and Paltrow fall in love, and share a smoke at the roof of the Tenenbaum house.

Murray goes on tour with Dudley, promoting his new book on the disease in "Dudley's World".

Stiller and Hackman with Ari and Uzi enjoy a garbage truck ride, living on the edge. Hackman has a heart attack and dies.

The closing are the Tenenbaums over Hackman's grave, which says on the bottom of his name "Died saving his family from a sinking battleship". They close a gate which says "Tenenbaum" and fade to black.


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