Genres: Comedy, Drama and Thriller
Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.
Release Date: December 5th, 2008 (limited)
MPAA Rating: R for some violent gruesome images, language and sexuality.
Distributors: Freestyle Releasing
Directed by: Randall M. Miller
JJ Rating: A-
Eli Michaelson (Alan Rickman) wins the Nobel Peace Prize and instead of being humble winner he is a narcissistic one who tears everyone down, even his family. On the night that he was to win the award he receives a phone call stating that his son Barkley (Bryan Greenberg) has been kidnapped. He doesn’t believe it. Later he gets a package that confirms that his son has been kidnapped. So the antics of getting him back begin. Nobel Son.
I like quirky stories and Nobel Son is rather quirky if not amusing. It’s what I would call a dark comedy because there are moments where it’s funny but because of what they are talking about and how they talk about it. Alan Rickman is perfect for the role as the father who is cynical, stubborn and cocky. He has that face that makes people think he is snooty and cocky as well as how he handled himself. I don’t see how anyone else could have played that role. Mary Steenburgen, plays Sarah Michaelson, has the eyes of someone that worries. So her playing a mother that believes in her son and his capabilities is not a stretch based on her looks as well as her acting. She just has a great calming affect about her even though she might be high strung during some parts. One of her good scenes has to do with a gun and a reporter. I believe it’s something every mother who has a kidnapped child would probably wish they could do. Bryan Greenberg (he played on “One Tree Hill” several times if he looks familiar and you can’t place him) does a good job. He does some subtle acting with the facial expressions. His interaction with Eliza Dushku and Shawn Hatosy (who play City Hall and Thaddeus James) is enjoyable to view.
Nobel Son is quirky because it’s not just a kidnapping story. Eli was not kind to his son at the university dinner that was honoring him for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. So when Barkley is kidnapped and he realizes what the kidnapper wants he flips. He turns around to help the kidnapper extort more money from his father, because it was time to pay him back. That is one turn the story takes. It has two more before it’s done. I appreciated the uniqueness of it all. There is some odd need to have TV shows that are similar like all the doctor, lawyer and cop shows. Which makes the unique, quirky shows like “Pushing Daisies” lose before they can get a good running start; it’s such a great show. It is the same with movies. Nobel Son is not like other movies that deal with kidnapping and jacked up families. This one is a bit different. Just like when a hint of lime on tortilla chips makes a difference in taste, so too does giving an old storyline a bit of creative flare.
There are good scenes that I would like to explain but they could ruin the film. It’s why I would buy it because I have so many moments I just loved. But the funny part is the poems that are read during the poetry reading that is held at a coffee shop at the beginning of the film. It’s the type of reading that makes one crinkle their brow in bewilderment as well as wish to have a Q-tip to dig out the filth that just entered the ear via words that pretend to be poetic.
The director is Randall M. Miller. He also directed this year’s Bottle Shock who had Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, and Eliza Dushku. It looks like he has himself returning actors like some directors who hit the big time seem to have. This story is faster in telling than Bottle Shock and it has tighter camera work. Bottle Shock was wider so that the view could be enjoyed and this one was more about the people and their facial expressions and interaction with one another. He’s a decent director. He is, for me, two and two.
I’m going to add this to my collection of weird movies. Nobel Son is a ‘you trick me I trick you’ kind of film. It’s not overly complicated. The plot is simple to follow even with a few twists here and there. It is enjoyable. It won’t be nominated for any Oscars or Nobel prizes or, for that matter, noble efforts but it’s going to be a personal quirky favorite of mine. I enjoy laughing about how a woman lost her breast, wouldn’t you?