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. On the eve of his father receiving the Nobel, Barkley is kidnapped and the 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.
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At The Movies
Nobel Son (14A) * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Look carefully at film titles. Better still, pay attention to caper movies as some may be a touch muddled. Lots of big name stars get down to dastardly business in Nobel Son, a smartly made crime laden thriller from Alliance Films worth checking out when it gets re-released into secondary theatres.
Who done dramas can be pretty successful if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a paint by numbers screenplay. Director/co-writer Randall Miller (Bottle Shock) breaks free from some uppity title credits and character identification to immerse us in a fairly interesting drama. At the core of all the upheaval is a family of intellectuals headed by the boorish Eli Michaelson. Under that gruff exterior is a brilliant mind that actually wins this misfit a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. So now we know what the title stands for. Or do we?
Like father like son doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exactly apply to grown boy Barkley. Not exactly the intellectual, Barkley and good old dad are not on the best of terms. Imagine the shock when dad and loving mom Sarah learn that Barkley has been kidnapped and a ransom demand made. Just who is responsible for the abduction and EliÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reaction to it sow the seeds for lots of consternation in this witty 110 minute journey into some pretty warped minds.
Top notch actor Alan Rickman (Die Hard) sure is in his element as a self-centered brainiac whose private life may leave many shaking their heads. Under that academia lies a pretty restless soul which provides ample food for fodder in this tale of woe, desperation and duplicity. Son Barkley comes across as not your everyday offspring thanks to the work of Bryan Greenberg (A Civil Action) with Shawn Hatosy (Factory Girl) creepy in the extreme as Thaddeus James, an offbeat name well-suited to his personality.
Among the supporting actors on screen in this tale of family intrigue are Ted Danson, Danny DeVito, Bill Pullman, Mary Steenburgen and Eliza Dushku who all bring a degree of freshness to their otherwise tried and true characters. Once the violence starts it gets things going though some of the subplots due seem just a touch far fetched.
Exciting chases, fear of confinement and the academic world turned on its ear give Nobel Son a passing grade for those who like crime tales.
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