Alan Rickman as Eli Michaelson
Bryan Greenberg as Barkley Michaelson
Shawn Hatosy as Thaddeus James
Mary Steenburgen as Sarah Michaelson
Bill Pullman as Det. Max Mariner
Eliza Dushku as City Hall
Danny DeVito as George Gastner
Lindy Booth as Beth Chapman
Tracey Walter as Simon Ahrens
Ted Danson as Harvey Parrish
Ernie Hudson as Sgt. Bill Canega
Hal B. Klein as Tully’s Guy
Kevin West as Jaundice
– Commentary with Cast & Filmmakers
– Deleted Scenes
– Redband Trailer
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 110 Minutes
The following is the official description of the film:
“Alan Rickman (‘Bottle Shock’), Bryan Greenberg (‘Bride Wars’), Mary Steenburgen (‘Four Christmases’) and Eliza Dushku (‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’) are delectably twisted in this insanely clever dark comedy of family dysfunction, betrayal, lust and revenge!
PhD candidate Barkley Michaelson (Greenberg) is a man with a big problem. Living in the shadow of his philandering, arrogant father Eli (Rickman), he’s never been good enough for the old man – and that was before Eli won the Nobel prize. So when Barkley’s kidnapped on the eve of the Nobel prize ceremony and held for the $2 million in prize money, it’s no surprise that Eli refuses to pay. Realizing his fate rests in his own hands, Barley decides to use his smarts and finally show his father just how close the apple falls for the tree!”
“Nobel Son” is rated R for some violent gruesome images, language and sexuality.
As I watched “Nobel Son,” I kept thinking, “This plot seems really familiar.” It wasn’t until Danny DeVito appeared on the screen that I realized what it reminded me of – “Ruthless People.” They both start out very similar. A relative of a tyrant is kidnapped, but eventually the relative sympathizes with the kidnappers and teams up with them to screw the tyrant. It’s at that point that “Nobel Son” takes a unique twist that I won’t spoil here. So despite being familiar, it was an interesting new take on the story.
“Nobel Son” is the kind of movie that you enjoy when you’re watching it, but as soon as it’s over you start realizing the numerous plot holes in the story. You realize the plot to steal the money had a number of flaws, you realize the death of certain characters were glossed over too easily, etc. You also realize that Thaddeus James is a brilliant strategist in the first half of the movie, but he makes stupid decisions in the second half that don’t seem consistent with his character. Despite all this, it still manages to be entertaining.
The weaknesses are forgivable thanks mainly to the excellent cast. Alan Rickman as Eli Michaelson is delightfully evil and egotistical. Bryan Greenberg is sympathetic as Barkley Michaelson, Eli’s long suffering son and an everyman studying cannibalism. Mary Steenburgen is also great as Sarah Michaelson, mother and criminal psychologist. She comes into play towards the end and really puts an interesting twist on the story. Shawn Hatosy is also good as Thaddeus James, the kidnapper. He’s equally brilliant and psychotic. Fans of Eliza Dushku will enjoy her as City Hall, Barkley’s sexy yet quirky love interest. Smaller roles by Bill Pullman, Danny DeVito, Ted Danson, and Ernie Hudson are also fun to see.
“Nobel Son” does have some problems finding the right tone. At times it feels like it’s going to be a lighthearted comedy such as when Rickman gleefully rubs the noses of his colleagues in the fact that he has won the Nobel prize. Other times it turns quite horrific such as when we graphically see someone getting their thumb getting cut off. By not picking one tone or the other, this ends up feeling like two different movies smashed together.
If you’re looking for a quirky crime drama or are a fan of any of the cast, then you’ll probably enjoy”Nobel Son.” But note the rating – this has more gore and sex than the lighthearted cover might lead you to expect.
The bonus features are rather light. There is the commentary, three deleted scenes, and a making-of featurette. The only notable deleted scene is one with Eliza Dushku explaining more about her character’s background.