Barkley Michaelson is in a deep life rut. He's struggling to finish his PHD thesis when his father, the learned Eli Michaelson, wins the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Barkley and his mother, Sarah, a renowned forensic psychiatrist, now have the ill-fortune of living with a man-eating monster whose philandering ways have gotten less and less...
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Barkley Michaelson is in a deep life rut. He's struggling to finish his PHD thesis when his father, the learned Eli Michaelson, wins the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Barkley and his mother, Sarah, a renowned forensic psychiatrist, now have the ill-fortune of living with a man-eating monster whose philandering ways have gotten less and less discreet. As if Barkley's world is not bad enough, on the eve of his father receiving the Nobel, Barkley is kidnapped and the end requested ransom is the $2,000,000 in Nobel prize money. Needless to say, Eli refuses to pay it and so starts a venomous tale of familial dysfunction, lust, betrayal and ultimately revenge. In the words of Michel de Montaigne, the 16th century philosopher: "There is more barbarity in eating a man alive than in eating him dead."
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An outrageously entertaining movie that doesn't let up for a second, Nobel Son's unending twists and turns will have you reeling from the ride.
This Nobel takes the prize for its ingenious blending of dark comedy into an insanely clever thriller. Thaddeus James (Shawn Hatosy) kidnaps Barkeley Michaelson (Bryan Greenberg), the 20-ish son of a chemistry Nobel Prize winner Eli Michaelson (Alan Rickman), demanding the prize money as ransom right on the eve of the prestigious presentation in Stockholm. This being a wicked tale of deception and familial dysfunction in the extreme, you can probably guess the father doesn't want to pay his precious $2 million prize money for the return of his son. But beware, not everything in this intricately plotted thriller is always what it appears to be.
Always watchable and surprising, the wonderful Alan Rickman doesn't disappoint -- delivering a wickedly funny performance as the woefully repugnant, ego-maniacal and self-absorbed father who is more concerned with bedding his university students than in forging a relationship with his very intelligent but neglected son, well played by Bryan Greenberg. Rickman dominates every scene he's in with his amusing boorish behavior. As his deceptively smart wife, Mary Steenburgen has one of her best acting outings in years. It's a shame this Oscar-winning actress doesn't get choice roles anymore because when she does, even in a small independent production like this, she shows she still has it. Cameos abound, but the crux of the movie belongs to Rickman and the two young actors, Greenberg and Hatosy who make his life a wreck.
Randall Miller, who co-wrote the script with wife Jody Savin, directs Nobel Sonwith a visual flair you never would have guessed from his previous films, Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School and this summer's splendid comedy sleeper Bottle Shock. Here, he clearly wants to channel Quentin Tarantino, with body parts figuring prominently into the plot, yet the director doesn't let the MTV style visual trickery get in the way of the story he's telling. Nobel Son mixes a lot of filmic influences but the indisputable highlight is an ingenious caper sequence involving Mini-Coopers that puts the recent The Italian Job to shame. It might not win any awards, but it's a highly entertaining way to spend an evening.
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.
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