If you’ve never heard of Nobel Son, there’s a good reason: it was in under 900 theaters for less than three weeks and rarely advertised. Despite having a relatively solid cast of new and old in the Hollywood limelight, the film ultimately suffered as much as the audience who watched it. Received poorly by critics and just about everyone who saw it, Nobel Son proved to be a little too convoluted for its own good and although it will likely find a somewhat comfortable home on home video, it still doesn’t go down any smoother even with the ability to rewind and figure out just what’s going on in this film.
On the eve of Barkley Michaelson’s father receiving the Nobel Prize, Barkley is kidnapped and the requested ransom is the $2,000,000 in Nobel Prize money. When his father refuses to pay it starts a venomous tale of familial dysfunction, lust, betrayal and ultimately revenge. Featuring an ensemble cast starring Alan Rickman, Bryan Greenberg, Mary Steenburgen, Shawn Hatosy, Bill Pullman, Ted Danson, Danny Devito and Eliza Dushku.
From the trailer of this film that I saw originally awhile back, I knew that it had to be at least a tad bit entertaining—Alan Rickman, after all, is a very entertaining actor regardless of the character he plays. So to see this film disappear into oblivion was a bit curious, but whatever—that happens with a lot of films these days, so I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, the film really was just as bad as the reviews led you to believe and it wasn’t even the characters or actors that ruined it, but rather the haphazard directing and ludicrous script.
I’m all for the type of films that screw with your head, but this film really just screwed with your vision more than anything. Not only did the film constantly time travel back and forth as it saw fit to reveal some big “shocking” surprise that you first process as a “what the f-?!!” moment and then realize that it wasn’t something you would’ve ever discovered from the film previously, so it really didn’t matter at all, but the ending of the film just felt incredibly cheap and haphazard. I’m sure it’s just hilarious to think that everyone is “in” on the big trick of the film, but in the end it’s just…stupid as hell.
Yeah we get it; Alan Rickman’s character is a horrible person. He’s egotistical, cheats on his wife, and pretty much is a pompous ass, but the things done to him just really don’t make much sense from his son’s standpoint. I mean how much of a whiner do you have to be to actually do any of what the film plots out? It’s just a ridiculous scenario and even when you try to accept it for what it is, you can’t because none of it makes sense.
Then there’s the whole introduction of the half brother and escaped psychiatric ward patient that…honestly, I don’t know what the hell the point of it all was. I’m more confused just talking about it than I was watching it, as at least in motion it seemed to make a little bit of sense, but now it just feels like a big block of confusion. To make matters worse it was almost a redeemable film up until the last few moments of the film when it was revealed the full motivations and planning behind all of it, as if it was supposed to be perceived as some fantastic “twist” on it all. It wasn’t. It was just disappointing.
Honestly none of the actors or acting was to be blamed for any of the films shortcomings; it was simply the progression of the story that was either predictable or completely confusing that left you just wondering if there was a storyboard done for the film where they just re-arranged the entire middle section of the film willy-nilly and stuck whatever wherever they pleased and stuck a “three days later” tag on it for it to make sense.
Really the film just attempts to pass itself off as something smarter than it really is. Which is a shame as the cast is enjoyable, from the briefly appearing Ted Danson and Danny DeVito to the always onscreen Alan Rickman or Bryan Greenberg. Bill Pullman (LONESTAR!) has a role so confusingly simple and small in here it’s a wonder it exists at all, but…whatever. This film isn’t even worth a rental, so you can just Skip It.
Fox has sent me a test disc once again, so no packaging, video or audio comments. Although I will say that the Paul Oakenfold soundtrack sounded nice for the most part, but it really didn’t feel like it meshed with the film all that well at times.
Commentary with director/producer Randall Miller, writer/producer Jody Savin, musician Paul Oakenfold, cinematographer Mike Ozier and actors Brian Greenberg and Eliza Dushku
Deleted scenes with optional commentary from director/producer Randall Miller and writer/producer Jody Savin
Making Of (13:00)
Redband Trailer (2:37)
Theatrical Trailer (2:27)
If all of the extras, it’s the commentary that’s the only thing that’s worth a listen…and that’s just because of the number of participants. You have every area of the film’s production covered, from actors to director, and as a whole it’s a lot more entertaining to watch than the film itself. Still isn’t really worth checking out, but if you had to pick the lesser of two evils…this would be the more worthwhile track to listen to over the films DD5.1 track.
Overall Nobel Son is a disappointing film, but the DVD does pack a fair number of extras on it. Depending on how big of a fan you are of the actors in the film the DVD may at least be worth a Rental…but you’d have to be a pretty big fan of one or more to warrant anything more.
Nobel Son arrives on DVD on June 9th.